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The Ascension, in a Book of Offices and Prayers

The Ascension, in a Book of Offices and Prayers

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1405

Shelfmark: Additional MS 16998

Item number: f.22r

Length: 144

Width: 224

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A book of offices (special prayers for each day) and other prayers, this manuscript was illuminated by Hermann Scheere and one or more unknown painters. Scheere may have been German, but his style suggests that his artistic background was Flemish. Certain features of its decoration reveal his continental origins and suggest that he decorated this book soon after arriving in England. It presents several unique or early examples of subject matter and text. Provided with a calendar, it includes prayers for feast days and ones special to certain saints, similar to a book of hours. It would have been used as a personal prayerbook. Prayers for major feast days are given pictures at the top of their beginning texts. These square miniatures are a continental feature. In late medieval English manuscript decoration, introductory pictures are usually held within the first letter of the text, a type of decoration going back to 8th-century Anglo-Saxon books. This page presents prayers and hymns for the feast of the Ascension. Its illustration shows the wounded feet of Christ disappearing into a red cloud. The green mound represents Mount Olivet and is flanked by the Apostles and the Virgin Mary, who is traditionally included in Ascension scenes although she is not mentioned in the account of the event in Acts of the Apostles. Scheere probably did not paint this miniature. The technique is not as fine as that seen in the signed miniature of St John the Evangelist.

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