Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Ascension - a twelfth century view

The Ascension
This strikingly-coloured and composed Romanesque image of the Ascension is from the York Psalter, which was painted circa 1170 in the north of England, in the era of Archbishop Roger of Pont-l'Évêque (1154-1181). It is now Glasgow University Library, MS Hunter 229 (U.3.2), fol 14

Christ's feet are seen disappearing into stylized layers of multi-coloured clouds, while two angels swoop below with outstretched wings, bearing scrolls. Below, ten apostles, some with upturned faces and pointing in astonishment, flank the central figure of the Virgin Mary who also gazes upwards with her expressive hands raised. The scene takes place against a golden background.

Other images from the psalter can be seen
here , here , herehere and  here. With this manuscript one gets an idea of the use of colour in the churches of twelfth century northern England - not dull and dark as they so often appear today to the visitor, but vibrant with colour and devotion. Moreover the use of colour is sophisticated and confident and far from garish or crude.

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