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Aristotle instructs the king, in Pseudo-Aristotle's 'About the Secrets of Secrets'

Aristotle instructs the king, in Pseudo-Aristotle's 'About the Secrets of Secrets'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1327

Shelfmark: Additional MS 47680

Item number: f.72v

Length: 23.7

Width: 15.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Believed in the middle ages to be Aristotle?s letter to Alexander the Great, ?About the Secrets of Secrets? concerns government and is a Latin translation of an Arabic work. A London scribe and King's Clerk, Walter of Milemete, and a team of artists probably made this richly decorated copy in 1326-1327. Milemete intended it to accompany his own treatise on royal virtues for presentation to Edward III. The 'Secrets' was owned by the Earls of Leicester, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

This page with unfinished decoration comes from a section on the body and illnesses and presents a discussion of fever and its remedies. An unpainted illustration simply shows 'Aristotle' instructing the king. The incomplete state of this page and a number of others raise doubt that Milemete ever presented the books to Edward III, but it provides a glimpse of the working methods of illuminators. To the right of the illustration, the blank square was intended for the enlarged first letter of the text. The page has been mostly laid out, decoration sketched, text written, gold leaf applied, and ink applied over the sketch. Colour has been applied to the letters beginning sentences, but the artist who painted the figures never began work on this page. Division of labour was usual in late medieval book production.

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