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Jousting, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Jousting, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1485

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Julius E IV

Item number: f.15v

Length: 27.7

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Thought to have been made for Anne, Countess of Warwick and daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1382-1439), this is the only illustrated biography of a secular figure to have survived from the late middle ages. Richard Beauchamp was a true high-flyer, but his daughter married Richard Neville ('The Kingmaker'), who opposed Edward IV and so caused the exclusion of Anne from all her possessions after his death. It is believed that, to recover the family's reputation and property, Anne had the 'Pageants' written, probably from an account kept by the family and possibly under the supervision of John Rous (Beauchamp's chantry priest at the Collegiate Church of St Mary's, Warwick), and the extraordinary illustrations made by a Continental artist (known as the Caxton Master) to enhance further the glorifying message.

Having returned from the Holy Land, Richard invites the French court to a jousting match. In the illustrations, Richard appears in different sets of armour, victorious over his opponents. This picture is remarkable for its triple-decker depiction of king in the stands, jousting ground with horses, knights and squire holding extra saddles and the stands. Viewed from the back, the spectators in the stands serve to enhance the sense of space, a device originating in early 15th-century Italian art.

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