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Christ Carrying the Cross, in a Volume of Writings on Ely

Christ Carrying the Cross, in a Volume of Writings on Ely

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1410

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian A XIX

Item number: f. 1v

Length: 19.3

Width: 12

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Volumes of medieval manuscripts often contain not one work but several, which may or may not be related. This one has some extremely important documents and histories from Ely Abbey--for which it is most well-known--interspersed with satires of the wandering singing students called the Goliards, three much later paintings of the Passion of Christ and a 'Life of William, Duke of Normandy'.

Facing the important early 12th-century account of the endowment of Ely Abbey in the 970s by Bishop Aethelwold of Winchester, this painting showing Christ carrying the cross was inserted much later by the 16th-century collector, Robert Cotton. Cotton often added 'beautifying' or visually impressive leaves to manuscripts in his vast collection. The painting was made in Paris, in the early 15th century. Originally it would have been made for a psalter or prayerbook such as a book of hours as a devotional image.

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