Bifolium with a large decorated initial from a Psalter, in Latin, decorated manuscript on vellum [England, c.1330-40]
3,000 - 5,000 GBP
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a bifolium, in total 238mm. by 350mm., decorated initial ‘D’ (opening Psalm 109: “Dixit dominus domino …”) in pink on a blue ground with white penwork decoration, enclosing a riot of coloured foliage collected within interlocking heart-like leaf shapes on a blue ground with white penwork, with extensions in the upper and inner margins made of circular loop patterns including stylised leaves in the upper margin and oak leaves with acorns in the inner margin, written space 195mm. by 120mm., single column, 21 lines in a gothic bookhand, one-line initials, paragraph marks and line-fillers in red or blue, line-fillers as geometric patterns, 2-line initials in red or blue with contrasting pen-flourishing, a sixteenth-century scribble in inner margin on verso, recovered from a binding and hence rubbed and stained in places, holes with losses to outermost edges of each text column (professionally repaired with silk), three cuts in text and body of initial, small hole within initial and darkening to area around, framed
English illumination of the early fourteenth century is noted for its naturalistic representation of a wide variety of leaves and fruit of nameable plants and trees. Especially noteworthy for the depiction of naturalistic plant forms is the glorious Tickhill Psalter, produced in Nottinghamshire in the early fourteenth century (New York, Public Library, Spencer Coll., MS.26: D.D. Egbert, The Tickhill Psalter, 1940, pl. LXXXVII). This trend is reflected here in the depiction of trefoils (including a four-leaf clover as a corner piece) and acorns between pairs of oak leaves. The bifolium was probably made in c.1330-40, before the vocabulary of conventional foliage became common around the middle of the century.