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Historiated Initial With The Virgin Mary Striking The Devil, In 'The De Brailes Hours'

Historiated Initial With The Virgin Mary Striking The Devil, In 'The De Brailes Hours'

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1240

Shelfmark: Additional MS 49999

Item number: f.40v

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

William de Brailes (i.e. from Brailes, in Warwickshire, about 30 miles north of Oxford) is the only 13th-century English non-monastic illuminator who is known to have signed his work. He is also known from documentary sources, which reveal that he lived and worked in Oxford, with his wife Celena, in the midst of the book-making community which was based around the present site of the chapel of All Souls College. His distinctive painting style has been recognised in several manuscripts, of which this is perhaps the most important: it is the earliest extant English Book of Hours, and includes two self-portraits. Continuing the story from a previous initial, this 'L' shows the Virgin Mary punching the devil, and retrieving from him the charter by which Theophilus the priest had sold his soul.

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