The Artists of Vaspourakan*


Artist Hovsian, The Last Supper, Gospel, 1306, village Berdakn (Berkri), MS 4806, 11b, size 34 x23

"Without referring to particulars, the artists of Vaspourakan communicate the principal idea and convey individual elements of it through the synthesis of composition, motion, rhythmic lines and contrasting colors, i.e., the part is expressed in the whole and through the whole." *  Below are brief biographical sketches of the Vaspourakan artists.

Quick Access Artists' List

nSimeon Ardjishetsi




nHovhannes Khizantsi

nUnknown Artist 2






nZakaria Gnunetsi


nGrigor Khlatetsi

nVardan Baghishetsi





nUnknown Artist 1


nKirakos Aghbaketsi


nKhatchatour Khizantsi

nZakaria Akhtamartsi


nZakaria Avantsi


nKarapet Berkretsi

nSarkis Khizantsi


nKarapet Akhtamartsi


Simeon Ardjishetsi

Scribe and Illuminator, he lived and created at the end of the thirteenth century (died in 1312), in the town of Ardjesh, located on the northern shore of Lake Van (now the town is submerged under the waters of the lake).  He was renowned for his consummate skill in scribing and had his own scriptoria.  Noted among his pupils are the scribes Daniel Akhtamartsi, Hovhannes and Deoscoros.  The creations of Ardjishetsi as illuminator excel in a marked preference of archaic forms in style as well as in iconography which subsequently gained currency with other miniaturists of Vaspourakan.  To intensify the expressive qualities of the illuminations, Ardjishetsi resorted to various conventional and artistic devices.  The Madenataran owns four manuscripts illustrated by Ardjishetsi.  They encompass the years 1288 to 1305, MSS 4851, 4862, 4819, 2744.   Illustrations: 1, 2, 3, 4

Artist Simeon Ardjishetsi The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, Gospel, 1305, Ardjesh, MS 2744, 6a, size 30.7 x 24.5

Back to Introduction and Section List  


Lived in Ardjesh at the end of the thirteenth and the start of the fourteenth centuries.  He got versed in the art of scribing and book illustration at Vardapet Khachatour Ardjishetsi (one of his manuscripts is preserved in the State Hermitage in Leningrad).  The two miniatures presented in the album are taken from his only manuscript preserved in the Madenataran (MS 4052).  Accomplished in painting, the artist fashions with bold dabs his almost athletic figures as though sculptured from bronze.  His characters combine singularly live feelings with profoundly religious motifs.  Illustrations: 5, 6

Artist Stepanos, The Massacre of the Innocents, The Presentation of Christ, Gospel, 1303. Ardjesh MS 4052. Ib, size 23 x 14


Back to Introduction and Section List  


Lived and painted at the close of the thirteenth and the start of the fourteenth centuries in the town of Berkri, situated to the east of Ardjesh.  Characteristic of the miniatures of his only surviving manuscript (Madenataran, 4814) is the peculiar insertion of motifs in iconographic schemes, pervaded with real life.  Thus, for instance, the composition "Entry into Jerusalem" is imbued with the disposition of popular spring festivity of reviving nature-the festivity of flowers.  In another miniature, the artist imparts the surrounding real world to the evangelist, through his clothing and the environment.  Illustrations: 7, 8


Artist Khacher, The Entry Into Jerusalem, Gospel, 1294. Berkri, MS 4814. 2a. size 30 x 23


Back to Introduction and Section List  



Only one manuscript from the works of this miniaturist is known -- a Gospel written in 1315, No. 2930, Madenataran.  The most prominent impression from Markare's works is the archaism that is partly connected with local and partly with Syrian and Coptic art traditions.  Though Markare lays the paints in rich and thick coating (mainly red, velvet green, and umber), the cold combination of the colours reminds of water-colour technique.  Illustrations: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Artist Markare?, The Raising of Lazarus, Gospel, 1315, Khordeants Monastery, MS 2930, 15a, size 31 x 24


Back to Introduction and Section List  


The son of Shirkan and Hripsime, the artist, scribe, and book binder, lived and illuminated at the close of the thirteenth and the onset of the fourteenth centuries in the villages Berdak and Azarkan, on the northern shore of Lake Van (the province of Arberan, or Tarberounik).  He was schooled by the priest Astvatsatour.  Housed in the Madenataran are three of the manuscripts has copied (MSS 4806, 4818, 10676).  Hovsian appertains to the artists of typically "popular" trend, whose art is dominated by primitive and somewhat naive traits, at times even shows lack of skill.  Nevertheless, he displays unusual expressiveness, typical of popular creations, unique devices and immediacy of apprehension.  Archaic schemes of iconography, characteristic of early Christian monuments, are traceable in the miniatures of Hovsian.  Thus he again introduces the themes "Sacrifice of Abraham" and "Abraham Entertaining the Angels".  The topical pictures included in the architectural-decorative composition look somewhat theatrical in nature.  Illustrations: 14, 15, 16, 17, 18


Artist Hovsian, Abraham Entertaining the Angel, Gospel, 1316, village Hazarakn (Berkri), MS 4818, 5b, 33 x 23

Back to Introduction and Section List  



An author of the first half of the fourteenth century, scribe and miniaturist.  He is noted for one manuscript (Madenataran 4813).  The works of this author are exceptionally original.  Clearly arranged, simplified figures and objects are presented in unusually bright pigments (the basic colours are blue, green, and red), accentuated with expressive contour lines.  These peculiarities of colour composition of the miniatures confer of them bold expressiveness and add to a more precise revelation of the inner content.  Illustrations: 19, 20, 21, 22

Artist Melkisedek, The Nativity, Gospel, 1338, region of Berkri, MS 4813, 2a, size 32 x 23.5

Back to Introduction and Section List  


Probably is a pupil of Simeon Ardjishetsi .  His creative efforts coincide with the first half of the fourteenth century.  He lived in the town of Artskeh, on the northeastern shore of Lake Van.  Two manuscripts copied and illuminated by him are preserved in the Madenataran (MSS 4125, 7656).  Vardan is a skilled artist and as such is no inferior to his famed predecessor Simeon Ardjishetsi .  Vardan's illuminations are conspicuously dynamic and are notable for the unity of colour and line solution.  At times, he resorts to a saturation of the colour gamut subtly variating the different shades of blue.  This is in peculiar harmony with the dominating graphic art and light water-colours.  The works of Vardan disguise a peculiar charm. Illustrations: 23, 24, 25, 26, 27

Artist Vardan, The Resurrection, the Ascension, Gospel, 1319, Artskeh, MS 7456, 8a, size 32.5 x 23.5

Back to Introduction and Section List  

The Artists of Vaspourakan Continued > > >

*Information and photos about Vaspourakan miniature found on this site, unless otherwise indicated, are quoted and taken  from Armenian Miniature Vaspourakan [Madenataran, Mashtot's Institute of Old Manuscripts Under the Auspices of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR, 1978; "Sovetakan Grogh" Publishing House, Yerevan].  Compiled, Introduction, and Commentaries by Hravard Hakopian; Editors: V.H. Kazarian, A.S. Matevossian; publishing editors: V.L. Vartanian, A.S. Sharourian, M.V. Sahagian, A.S. Hovsepian; photographer:R.S. Bedrossian; Kegharvesdagan editor: Ok. A. Asadrian; Krki maged@ yev dekh. editoring: A.A. Madiniani; Proofreading Editors: E. B. Boghossian, B. S. Avedissian, A. O. Ayvazian.



Information | Contact Us | Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy

2000 Armenian Cross.  All Rights Reserved.