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The Elephant, In A Bestiary f.11v

The Elephant, In A Bestiary f.11v

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1230

Shelfmark: Royal MS 12 F.xiii

Item number: f.11v

Length: 29.2

Width: 19.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The text of this manuscript concerns the characteristics of different kinds of animals, plants and stones. It seems to have been made for a librarian of the Benedictine abbey at Rochester, and its artist also worked on a Psalter probably made for a London patron; he therefore probably moved around Southeast England. The illumination was left unfinished, however, so it may be that the librarian ran out of money, or that the artist was called away to another project. The Bestiary states that the elephant has no joints in its knees, and therefore cannot got up if it falls over; it therefore leans against a tree in order to sleep. To catch one a man cuts part-way though a tree trunk, so that it will fall over when leant on. The lower picture shows four elephants trying to help their companion back onto its feet.

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