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.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Recycling a medieval manuscript for a new bride

The Art Newspaper has an interesting article about how a Book of Hours which had belonged to Yolande of Anjou, the first consort of Duke Francis I of Brittany - not King as the inaccurate headline has it - was adapted after her death to include the portrait and arms of his second wife, Isabella of Scotland.

Considerable skill was brought to bear to overpaint the faces and heraldry, which has now been revealed by infrared photography. 

Medieval manuscripts of this period were often completed long after they were commenced, and received additions and embellishments from new owners. This is another example of how such a manuscript was updated and why. A bit of careful repainting and this splendid volume could continue to grace the Ducal chapel and to be a handsome present for a new bride.

The illustrated article can be seen at Off with her head! Infrared technology shows how a 15th-century French king used a paintbrush to replace one wife with another and the Book of Hours itself is currently on public display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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