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Rose WALKER, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Between promoters and parchment: taste and travel in the patronage of medieval manuscripts
The patrons of medieval illuminated manuscripts are elusive. Names and identities are often a matter of conjecture, with the result that known examples can be privileged in the literature. Even fewer manuscripts also include information on the artist and circumstances of production. Bearing that in mind, this paper will consider two groups of case studies. The first will focus on the middle of the eleventh century and will consider three manuscripts: the Saint-Sever Beatus (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 8878), Vat. Reg. Lat. 123 from Ripoll, and the Prayer Book of Fernando and Sancha (Biblioteca Universitaria de Santiago de Compostela, Rs. 1). Each of these books represents a decision to opt for something out of the ordinary. The creative process between the patrons, the scribes and the illuminators drew on models beyond those traditionally to hand with exceptional forward-looking results. Thus these examples will help to pinpoint the choices that affected content, style and function. They will emphasise the importance of patrons’ connections across geographical and political boundaries and the effect that these could have on taste. The second group of case studies follows this theme into later periods and is united by courtly styles and contexts, although not by chronology. It will include the Cardeña Beatus from Castile and the Golden Haggadah (British Library, Add. MS. 27210) from the Crown of Aragon. In these cases an approach to illumination that was prevalent in certain royal circles was newly applied to established genres.