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Historiated Initial With The Fool, In The Coldingham Breviary

Historiated Initial With The Fool, In The Coldingham Breviary

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Harley MS 4664

Item number: f.145v

Length: 25.6

Width: 17.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Various kinds of evidence in this Breviary shows that it was made for Coldingham Priory, about 10 miles north of Berwick-on-Tweed, in Scotland, perhaps at Durham: the abbey was a cell of Durham Cathedral Priory. The manuscript was certainly owned by a monk of Durham in the 16th century. Psalm 52 begins 'The Fool has said in his heart, there is no God . . .', and is often illustrated with an image of a fool. The present composition is very unusual in its details, however: the Fool is watched by a queen, he has flowers in his hair (like King Lear in his madness), and holds a bowl.

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