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American Philosophical Society
Queen Mary Psalter: A Study of Affect & Audience
Anne Rudloff Stanton (au). Illuminated manuscripts are among the more intimate works of art surviving from the medieval period, for they usually were designed to edify & delight a specific owner. The Queen Mary Psalter (c. 1316?-21) has long been recognized as one of the most outstanding English Gothic manuscripts. Its straightforward devotional texts are framed by a richly encyclopedic series of narrative images painted in a delicate & courtly style. The psalms are introduced by an Old Testament preface in which lively tinted drawings are explained by chatty French captions. The psalm decoration incorporates a combination of framed illuminations of the life of Christ at the beginnings of important psalms, & tiny tinted drawings in the bottom margin of every page that tell stories ranging from the bestiary to the lives of the saints. Queen Mary Tudor owned the Psalter two centuries after it was made, but substantial contextual evidence suggests that its original owner was Isabelle of France, the queen of Edward II of England & mother of Edward III. For Isabelle & her household, the Psalter provided a richly layered experience in the reading of texts, & images, for the wide variety of viewers in the queen's household. Winner of the 2000 Millennium Award. Over 100 B&W illus.
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