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Alphonso Psalter

This manuscript was begun for Prince Alphonso, son of Edward I, who was betrothed to Margaret, daughter of the Count of Flanders. The arms of Flanders and England flank a defiant herring gull. Poor Alphonso was only 10 and a half when he died in August 1284, two weeks before his wedding. So the illuminators of this enchanting page downed tools, leaving the book to be completed by lesser artists for a lesser patron.

Curatorial note:
Written in Latin on vellum and decorated in tempera colours, ink and gold, this psalter is often taken as the most perfect example of the refined 'court style' of manuscript illumination. The style evolved in the royal court at Westminster during the second half of the 13th century, emulating the highly sophisticated French royal court in Paris. The original decoration, which is of superlative quality, was completed and added to by several later owners, one of whom, around 1316, pasted in illustrations from an earlier Bible from the north of France.

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