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Psalm 51, The Arundel Psalter

Psalm 51, The Arundel Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1075

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 60

Item number: f.53r

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. Throughout the middle ages, the Psalter was used for church services and as a personal prayerbook. 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 first letter of Psalm 51 (52, "Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man?") fills nearly the entire page and is lavishly decorated. The decoration serves to mark the beginning of the section division of Psalms according to the tradition followed in many Anglo-Saxon and Irish psalters. The decoration of this page, however, was almost certainly painted about twenty years after the text was written because it resembles the later 11th-century Norman or northern French style, with its blue, rose, green and red colour scheme as opposed to the warmer colours of most 11th-century Anglo-Saxon painting. The text, probably written right before the Norman invasion, has an Old English gloss and in other pages there are drawings in an Anglo-Saxon style.

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