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The Trinity and the Virgin, in the Carmelite Missal

The Trinity and the Virgin, in the Carmelite Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1395

Shelfmark: Additional MS 29705

Item number: f.193v

Length: 71.4

Width: 51.2

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 the White Friars' religious intensity and 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 suffered a tragic fate in the early 19th century when its owner allowed his children to cut it up for pasting in their own 'designs'. In the 1930s Margaret Rickert devoted two years to putting the scraps back together. A page of prayers for a votive Mass has a historiated initial with the Trinity above and the Virgin below, flanked by a kneeling man and woman kneeling, probably the manuscript's donors. The image of Christ displaying his wounds and the prayers on the inscribed scrolls reflect the intensity of contemporary personal devotion.

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