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The Ormesby Psalter is one of the most well-known yet mysterious manuscripts to survive the Middle Ages. Commissioned in the late thirteenth century to celebrate a marriage that never took place, this exquisite book of psalmslikely meant for private devotion by its wealthy patronswas left unfinished. Having housed this enigmatic masterpiece for hundreds of years, Oxford's Bodleian Library has now opened it up to the public at large for the first time. Manuscript expert Frederica Law-Turner places the psalter within a wider historical context and then deciphers its lush illuminationsscenes that vary wildly in tone from the comic to the bawdy to the mythic. Full-color photographs illustrate the text's unusual characters: falcons and hunting dogs at bay, kings and courtesans, and other animals dressed in human garb. Created over a period of decades by previously unrecognized scribes and artists, the Ormesby Psalter is an exceptional amalgam of medieval art and history. For scholars of medieval life, as well as art historians, this new study will be an invaluable resource.
Frederica Law-Turner is an expert in Sotheby's Department of Western Manuscripts, and has also worked as a free-lance critic and lecturer.