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Decorated Initial, In A Bible

Decorated Initial, In A Bible

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1250

Shelfmark: Harley MS 2818

Item number: f.106v

Length: 14.9

Width: 10.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This is a 'pocket Bible', typical of the 13th century. They were produced in huge numbers especially in Paris, but also in England, and in Italy, where this one was illuminated. In the 12th century Bibles were typically written as sets of large volumes, but in the early 13th century the text and the order of the books was standardised, and a very small-scale format was established. It has been persuasively argued that one of the reasons for this development was the existence of the mendicant orders, which needed small, portable books. This manuscript has ownership inscriptions of the Franciscan convent at Walsingham, between Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Sea, in Norfolk. Each book of the Bible is marked by a foliate initial such as this 'P', which introduces the book of II Samuel. Each chapter is marked with a blue or red initial with penwork flourishing in the other colour, and numbered in red in the side margins; the first letter of each sentence or verse is also touched with a stroke of red.

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