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Crucifixion, The Arundel Psalter f.12v

Crucifixion, The Arundel Psalter f.12v

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1060

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 60

Item number: f.12v

Length: 30.1

Width: 19.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Probably made at Winchester, although it is not certain by or for which religious house there, the Arundel Psalter seems to have been a personal prayerbook. Use of the psalter in the middle ages could be for church services or personal prayer. Individualistic choices of saints for its calendar as well as Old English glosses on the Latin text suggest this one was made for private prayer. The psalter begins with a tinted drawing of the Crucifixion, serving as an aid to prayer. The cross is made of rough-hewn planks, reminding the viewer that it once was a tree, the medieval belief being that it was made from the tree in the garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve were tempted. It visually underscores the idea that Jesus's death--he is shown as dead--was supposed to attain salvation from the sin of Adam and Eve. The hand of God descends from above, flanked by the mourning sun and moon. The Virgin and St John, as the two humans closest to Christ, gesture toward the cross, enacting a further link to the event for the viewer. The drawing style is unusually rigid. Anglo-Saxon drawings are usually full of expressive movement.

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