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Historiated Initial With A King Kissing A Queen, In 'The Bible Of William Of Hales'

Historiated Initial With A King Kissing A Queen, In 'The Bible Of William Of Hales'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1254

Shelfmark: Royal MS 1 B.xii

Item number: f.208r

Length: 30.7

Width: 19.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A colophon records that this Bible was written in 1254 by William of Hales (perhaps from Hailes, in Gloucestershire?) for Thomas de la Wile, who had been called by the chancellor of Salisbury to be in charge of the Salisbury schools. The text was copied from a 12th-century Bible still in Salisbury cathedral library. In the mid 13th century the city was an important centre of scholarship, and a number of fine illuminated manuscripts (probably produced there) can be attributed to the artist of the present manuscript, the so-called 'Sarum Master'. The Old Testament book of the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), notable for its erotic poetry, opens with the words 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth'. Here the artist has shown a king and queen kissing, rather than the more common image of the Madonna and Child.

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