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Scenes of the Passion of Christ, in a Volume of Writings on Ely

Scenes of the Passion of Christ, in a Volume of Writings on Ely

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1410

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian A XIX

Item number: f. 103v

Length: 19.2

Width: 12.3

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 beginning of a section containing copies of letters of King Henry VI (1422-1461) to the priory and convent of Ely, this painting, showing Christ being taken from the cross and his entombment, was placed with the manuscript after the Reformation. The 16th-century collector, Robert Cotton, inserted it, probably to 'upgrade' and beautify the volume. Painted in the early 15th century, it is the work of a Parisian artist. 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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