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2002 articles 1984 articles

The making of the Harley Psalter

Janet Backhouse


THE artists of later Anglo-Saxon England are particularly noted for the lively and delicate multi-coloured line drawings which feature in some sixty of the illuminated manuscripts which have come down to us from the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. These drawings are in distinct contrast to the often rather heavy work in gold and full colour which is characteristic of the Winchester School, though both are frequently recognizable as the contributions of the same craftsmen. That the two techniques were not regarded as being of unequal artistic stature is clearly demonstrated by their joint appearances within the same miniature in such masterpieces as the Benedictional of St Æthelwold and the Eadui Psalter, and by the deliberate choice of line drawing as the medium of illustration not only in the Sherborne Pontifical' and the New Minster Liber Vitae but also for the magnificent Crucifixion page in the Ramsey Psalter, which is combined with a huge and fully coloured initial B to form one of the most striking decorative openings in English manuscript art.

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