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St Augustine, a Blackfriar, and St John the Baptist, in The Carmelite Missal

St Augustine, a Blackfriar, and St John the Baptist, in The Carmelite Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1395

Shelfmark: Additional MS 44892

Item number: f.136v

Length: 71.2

Width: 51.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

An order of monks and nuns who followed a strict ideal of abstinence, the Carmelites or 'White Friars' became prominent in England in the 13th and 14th centuries. They were well-connected with powerful supporters in the royal court. The Carmelite Missal was probably made for use at Whitefriars in London. Its beautiful decoration can be seen as an expression of both the White Friars' religious intensity and their highly placed patronage. At least three artists, one a foreigner, decorated it and introduced new ways of depicting the human figure and creating illusions of space. Their work brought English manuscript art into a new phase of the 'International Style' of western European painting. The missal's early 19th-century owner allowed his children to cut it up and paste scraps of its decoration into 'collages'. In the 1930s Margaret Rickert reconstructed the missal from its scraps. This reconstructed page comes from the 'Sanctorale' or prayers for saints' feast days. On the left, a letter is decorated with a picture of St Augustine being consecrated bishop, with a kneeling monk in black (a 'Blackfriar'), while a letter on the right shows scenes from the story of St John the Baptist: dining with the king and queen, Solome's dance, his martyrdom, and burial.

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