The Heavenly Ladder: illustration from a Klimax manuscript

Historical period(s)
Byzantine period, early 12th century
Color and slight gold on parchment
H x W: 15.6 x 13.2 cm (6 1/8 x 5 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Byzantine Period (395 - 640), Christianity

The Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Constantinople (Istanbul) [1]

To 1909
Ali Arabi, Giza, Egypt, to 1909 [2]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ali Arabi, in Giza, in 1909 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to Curatorial Remark 2 in the object record: "For a full discussion of the Freer 'Klimax' miniatures, see Charles R. Morey, 'East Christian Paintings in the Freer Collection,' New York, 1914, p. 17 ff; reproduced in color on pl. II; the same also on a single sheet stored with the original. For colophon, signature and dating, see especially pp. 26-29. Date and provenance are here given as 'about 1130, and their place of origin identified as the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Constantinople.'"

[2] See Original Miscellaneous List, Biblical Mss. section, S.I. 1486-B, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Monastery of St. John the Baptist
Ali Arabi (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1840-1932
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Published References
  • Seymour de Ricci, W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. 3 vols., New York, 1935-1940. vol. 1: p. 468.
  • Charles Rufus Morey. East Christian Paintings in the Freer Collection. University of Michigan Humanistic Series, 12 New York. pl. 2.
  • John Rupert Martin. The Illustration of the Heavenly Ladder of John Climacus. Studies in manuscript illumination, no. 5 Princeton. pp. 12, 192, fig. 15.
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 23, fig. 1.5.
  • Gary Vikan. Byzantine Art as a Mirror of its Public. vol. 118, no. 283 London, August 1983. pp. 164-167, fig. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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