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An illuminated manuscript with 252 richly illustrated pages probably produced at Gorleston at a time when East Anglia was one of the foremost artistic centres in Europe.
Macclesfield Psalter by Medieval, c. 1330
© Fitzwilliam Museum
- Gold & tempera on vellum Dimensions: 17 x 10.8 cm
- Art Fund grant:
- £500,000 ( Total: £1,685,600; Export stopped)
- Acquired in:
- Private vendor
The manuscript is a fascinating record of medieval humour, teeming with bizarre and imaginative marginal illustrations. Perhaps the chief joy of the work is the secular imagery in the margins, which displays an uninhibited humour and inventiveness of Monty Pythonesque proportions. Images include a dog dressed as a bishop, an ape giving medical advice to a bear, grotesques with faces in their bottoms and legs growing from their shoulders, a rabbit riding a hound, a trouserless man pulling a dragon's tongue, and an astonishingly naturalistic giant skate which swims across the page. It was acquired after a high profile campaign was launched by the Art Fund to raise the funds and the grant includes a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation.
Commissioned by a patron of St. Andrew's church, Gorleston, Sussex; East Anglian convent in later Middle Ages; by 1600 Anthony Watson and John Smeaton; Sir Thomas Parker probaby when he purchased Shirburn Castle in 1716; Earl of Macclesfield; Sotheby's 2004.
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