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St Anthony the Hermit, in a Prayerbook and Beaufort Hours

St Anthony the Hermit, in a Prayerbook and Beaufort Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1430

Shelfmark: Royal MS 2 A.xviii

Item number: f.6v

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

A psalter and book of hours make up the main part of this manuscript. It has an added section of twenty-one pictures, taken from a psalter now in Rennes, which were pasted onto leaves with gold decoration masking their edges. A good London workshop produced the book of hours and psalter (c.1430), but three exceptional artists, two of them Flemish, created the added pictures (c.1410). The Flemish-style paintings probably came from abroad. Styles of border decoration and some of the pictures as well as positioning instructions in English show that the added leaves were made in England. Other inscriptions suggest that the main part was made for Margaret Beauchamp (1404-1482), and she added the leaves, inherited from her forebears, the Grandisons, whose names are listed at the front. Her daughter, Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), mother of Henry VII, inherited it. It is probably the book which she bequeathed to the family chapel at Westminster.

In the section of added leaves, St Anthony the Hermit sits in front of a chapel's open door. He had come to sainthood from a career as a swineherd: he is shown with his pigs and swineherd's bell. In Margaret Beauchamp's day, a priory of the hermits of St Anthony was located on Threadneedle Street, London, whence the community's herd of consecrated pigs--the original 'Tantony's pig'--wandered the streets, nibbling the contents of shopping baskets.

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