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Decorated Initial At The Start Of John, In The Four Gospels

Decorated Initial At The Start Of John, In The Four Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 930

Shelfmark: Royal MS 1 A.xviii

Item number: f.162r

Length: 25.8

Width: 18

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 scribe of this page clearly knew what form the large initial 'I' was to take: he left extra space at the top of his text to allow for the animal-head finial, and less space at the bottom where the initial tapers to a narrow point.

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