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Christ In Majesty, in the Vespasian Psalter

Christ In Majesty, in the Vespasian Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1220

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian A I

Item number: f.1r

Length: 22.5

Width: 16.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Bound into the famous 8th-century 'Vespasian Psalter', this picture showing 'Christ in Majesty' comes from a 13th-century copy of the Book of Psalms. It was probably added to the earlier manuscript by its 17th-century owner, Sir Robert Cotton, after the original first page became lost, which probably happened some time between 1418 and 1566. The 'Christ in Majesty' page depicts a vision of Christ appearing from the heavens, surrounded by four creatures (man, lion, bull, eagle), as described in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelations. They are shown holding scrolls--the early form of book-- because they were understood as symbols of the four gospels. Often it indicates a vision of the Second Coming. The picture had been the frontispiece of a lavishly decorated psalter. On its reverse the decorated first letter of Psalm 1 is preserved from the 13th-century psalter.

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