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Sketched Initials, In 'The Bosworth Psalter'

Sketched Initials, In 'The Bosworth Psalter'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 980

Shelfmark: Additional MS 37517

Item number: f.135v

Length: 39.5

Width: 26.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

One of the most striking features of the Psalter, apart from its very early date, is its exceptionally large size. This gives the impression that it was created as a consciously prestigious object for use in important liturgical ceremonies, rather than for private study or devotion. By the 12th century, however, when extensive Old English glosses and Latin commentaries were added, it seems to have been being used for a different purpose. All the evidence suggests that the book was made in Canterbury, perhaps for St. Dunstan, but scholars have long argued over whether it comes from the cathedral or from St. Augustine's Abbey. At the end of the volume are texts to be read during mass. This page shows the three first stages in the production of a decorated initial: in the right-hand column is a space for an initial 'T' that has not even been started; to its left is a 'VD' monogram whose design has been sketched in pencil; and above this is a 'P' whose pencil design has been inked-over.

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