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Decorated Initial At The Start of The Gospel Of Matthew, In The Four Gospels

Decorated Initial At The Start of The Gospel Of Matthew, In The Four Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 930

Shelfmark: Royal MS 1 A.xviii

Item number: f.12r

Length: 25.5

Width: 17.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This manuscript was written by a Continental scribe, probably in France. A flyleaf inscription, probably written in the 16th century but imitating 11th-century English script, is perhaps a copy of a now-lost inscription, that states that the book was given by King Aethelstan (reigned 927-939) to St Augustine's abbey, Canterbury. If the inscription is to be believed, this manuscript represents an example of foreign book-decoration that native artists could have seen and assimilated into their own work. The large initial 'L' which introduces Matthew--although it was created by a foreign artist--includes features which would have been familiar to an Insular artist, such as the use of interlace ornament, and animal heads at the terminals.

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