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The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds, in a psalter preceded by miniatures and a Calendar

The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds, in a psalter preceded by miniatures and a Calendar

Date: 1210

Shelfmark: Royal MS 1 D.x

Item number: f.1v

Length: 34.6

Width: 22.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Oxford University came into being gradually, around the year 1200, and a community of book-makers were soon established in the town, centred around the Catte Street and St Mary's Church. Documentary records suggest that these book-makers not only provided students with the necessary textbooks, but also specialised in meeting the needs of the luxury market: a disproportionately large number of illuminators are recorded. This psalter is probably one of their products: the calendar and litany include three entries for St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. The Nativity is very unusual because it shows the Virgin suckling the Child; Joseph adjusting her pillow is derived from Anglo-Saxon compositions, which suggests that the artist knew an old version of the subject. Also unusual is the angel who stands on the ground, instead of hovering in the air.

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