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Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth

and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. This essay aims to trace the development and variation of a single item of iconography, the Tree of Jesse, through a selection of illuminated manuscripts, and some early printed books, produced in Europe between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. It thus proposes to continue after Arthur Watson and sketch out some of the topography of the terrain that was left uncharted by his study of The Early Iconography of the Tree of Jesse; a work which follows the subject only as far as the twelfth century.1 A substantial amount of medieval religious texts (Psalters, Lectionaries, Books of Hours, and Bibles) were adorned with this image, which provides a visual representation of the first lines of the eleventh chapter of the book of Isaiah, describing the spiritual kingdom of Christ:
et egredietur virga de radice Iesse et flos de radice eius ascendet / et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini spiritus sapientiae et intellectus spiritus consilii et fortitudinis spiritus scientiae et pietatis / et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini non secundum visionem oculorum iudicabit neque secundum auditum aurium arguet. And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. / And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. / And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.2

The pictorial representation of the Jesse Tree has several elements common to all, or at least almost all, of its manifestations throughout the period under discussion. Jesse is predominantly depicted in a recumbent pose, sleeping or in meditation upon a bed with a coverlet with the trunk of the tree sprouting from his loins. In every case the trunk grows upward and forms the central axis of the image. In most versions its branches either encircle or yield flowers that frame miniature portraits of King David, the Virgin and Jesus Christ, in that order from bottom to top. The iconography was influenced by the exegesis of Tertullian who had first linked the rod (virga) with the Virgin Mary (Virgo) and the flower (flos) with Jesus Christ; an interpretation perpetuated through the later Middle Ages in the writings of Ambrose and Jerome. In many versions of the image, particularly in the later phase of its development, there are also branches extending upward on the left and right sides, also comprising frames or borders for further miniatures, of the Old Testament prophets or of regal ancestors from the twenty-eight generations preceding Christ, as described in the genealogical introduction to the first chapter of the Book of Matthew (1.1-17). King Davids prominence within this genealogy is reflected by the iconography, in which he is given a central representation on the main branch, and is usually depicted holding a harp. This in part explains why so many examples of Jesse Tree illuminations are incorporated into the lavishly historiated initials on the Beatus pages of Psalters and Psalter-hours, from the thirteenth century onwards, which extravagantly foreground the initial letter of the opening lines of the first Psalm: Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum [Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly] (Psalms 1.1); the Davidic
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(Oxford, 1934). Isaiah 11.1-3, Vulgate and Douay-Rheims texts.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. imagery serving to remind readers of the divine provenance and redemptive authority of the text they are about to contemplate. The Tree of Jesse, as an item of devotional iconography, did not appear solely on the pages of manuscript books but was given expression in virtually all of the media available to medieval culture: in sculpture, paneling, wood-carvings, stained glass windows, paintings and embroidery.3 It is beyond the scope of this essay to cover the full range of this material, and even within the restriction to the manuscripts and early printed books of the period 1100-1600, it has been necessary to be selective. A certain number of medieval texts containing Jesse Tree iconography have been dispersed as far afield as the United States, and so for practical reasons I have limited to my research to texts of the period that are held in the British Library. Sadly, some of these are subject to the highest level of restriction, and so in six cases I have had to work from surrogates, either in microfilm or facsimile.4 The manuscripts which I will consider then, in approximate chronological order, are British Library (BL) MSS: Cotton Nero c. iv, the Winchester Psalter; Harley 2889, The Siegburg Lectionary; Lansdowne 383, the Shaftesbury Psalter; Arundel 44, Speculum Virginum; Additional 48985, the Salvin Hours; Additional 21926, the Grandisson Psalter; Royal 2. B vii, Queen Marys Psalter; Arundel 83, the Howard Psalter-Hours; Additional 18720; Additional 39810 (formerly Yates Thompson 14), the Saint Omer Psalter; and Additional 49622, the Gorleston Psalter. I will end by looking at the emergence of Jesse Tree iconography in two early modern printed books: the 1550 edition of Edmund Halls Chronicle of the Union of the two noble and illustre houses of Lancastre and Yorke, as well as the 1578 edition of Richard Days A Booke of Christian Prayers. There is unlikely to be any single reason for the profusion of Jesse Tree iconography during this period. Its widespread emergence in contemporary illuminated manuscripts was probably nourished by various strains of influence. The philosophical interest in the Incarnation stimulated by the Cur Deus Homo of Anselm of Canterbury, was possibly one such strain. More generally, the fusion of genealogical and arboreal imagery in the iconography perhaps answered the widespread desire to discern the pattern of Gods creation in its manifestation as nature that was characteristic of the scholastic discourses of the so-called twelfth-century renaissance. The imposing and beautiful stained-glass window at the West end of Chartres Cathedral, depicting a Jesse Tree in six tripartite compartments, with a double-heighth compartment in which Jesus is represented at the top, was likely to have exerted an aesthetic influence upon any artist who had seen, or even heard about it, in the transitional phase between Romanesque and Gothic styles, which transpired at different rates in different places in Europe, during the course of the twelfth century. We have seen how the image of the Tree of Jesse is essentially a synthesis of biblical source material, from the books of Isaiah and Matthew, and how it prominently

See Malcolm Low, A Directory of the Tree of Jesse, 2nd ed., (2006) for wide range of examples from the eleventh to the twentieth centuries. 4 I have had to use surrogates for the Winchester Psalter; the Shaftesbury Psalter; Queen Marys Psalter; the Saint-Omer Psalter; the Howard Psalter-Hours; and the Gorleston Psalter; for which reason it has not been possible to take accurate measurements from these manuscripts.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. features both King David and the Virgin Mary. This lent the iconography a great degree of versatility, which accounts for its appearance upon the Beatus pages of Psalters, as well as in Hours of the Virgin, or in Bibles, at the division marking the opening lines of the first Gospel of St. Matthew. Moreover, the nature of the genealogy, with its roots in the Old Testament and its flower in the New, meant that it was highly amenable to the medieval preoccupation with engaging both sets of Scriptures in dialogue, as well as being able to mark the transitional moment between them. As the book trade was increasingly professionalized and dispersed from the monasteries into the towns during the late thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries, the genealogical dimension of Jesse Tree iconography itself became especially valued by aristocratic patrons of the arts. These members of great houses commissioned bespoke productions which were designed to be the prestigious treasures of their own libraries, family heirlooms themselves to be passed down through the generations of their own lineage. This dynastic emphasis finds its ultimate expression in the Tudor period, in which the devotional elements of the iconography are submerged by the post-Reformation iconoclastic imperative which appropriated the medieval iconography in pursuit of the purely political assertion of Henry VIIIs Divine Right of Kingship. The early and middle periods of the twelfth century saw the flowering of Romanesque art in England with the Winchester Psalter and the Shaftesbury Psalter among the high points of its expression. I will return to these later, to focus first upon the illuminations of the Siegburg Lectionary (MS Harley 2889) which are also in the Romanesque style.5 This manuscripts initial sequence of miniatures (comprising ff.1v, 2r, 2v, 3r and 3v which contain portraits of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James, St. John and Isaiah) is in the Romanesque style, and yet demonstrates transitional elements in its more naturalistic figures with exquisite damp-fold drapery and much variation in the colour schemes of the portraits and design of the borders.6 This drapery is finely realized in four shades each of white (tunic) and red (cloak); it is pattern-forming, but less expressionistic than that found in the highRomanesque style of the Winchester and Shaftesbury Psalters and in the Lambeth Palace bible.7 The Isaiah miniature forms the left hand panel of a diptych with the right hand panel consisting of a full-page miniature of the Tree of Jesse (see fig.1). Isaiah is portrayed standing full length facing right onto the Jesse Tree on the opposite page. In his left hand he holds out a banderole with three lines of red protogothic script from the first two lines of Isaiah 11. He stands against a deep aquamarine field (121mm x 52mm) with vertical Lombardic text (YSAIAS and PROP) in white on either side. The figure is nimbed in burnished gold, with a thin sgraffito line around its circumference. The border is exceptionally lavish, moreso than in the previous four miniatures, with eight rectilinear bosses in the corners and at the mid-points of each edge, each with sgraffito flourishing.
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The British Library catalogue record dates this manuscript to the second quarter of the twelfth century. Each of the figures holds a banderole with an epigram from their respective books. For a list of the precise contents of each of these banderoles, see Mauritius Mittler, Das Siegburger Lektionar, (Siegburg, 1975), 8. 7 London, Lambeth Palace MS 3.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. Between each boss on a vermillion field is extremely fine vinet flourishing in alternating white and shell-gold. Within the outer border (177mm x 105mm) is a thick inner border of burnished gold (151mm x 78mm). While the first four miniatures then give prominence to the New Testament figures whose writings will substantially comprise the text of the lectionary, the Prophet Isaiah and the Jesse Tree are especially privileged as these are the culminating images of a lavish sequence of full-page miniatures and directly precede the first text in the lectionary, from Isaiah 62.1-6, Propter syon non tacebo [For Sions sake I will not hold my peace]. The Jesse Tree is fairly unique in its representation of Jesse inside a coffin, as well as for the fact that the tree does not describe a genealogy of Christ.8 The iconographic synthesis of Isaiah 11 with Matthew 1, as well as the exegesis of Tertullian then, must have been alien to the designer of this miniature in which the rod of Jesse grows behind his casket, directly into seven radiating branches upon which are suspended gold medallions (20mm) with thick silver borders (2-3mm) containing doves which symbolize the Seven Gifts of the Spirit, as described in Isaiah 11.2-3.9 The outer border (176mm x 105mm) has no bosses and is framed by a doubled thin line of ochre and red which contains a dark reddish-brown field, over which is a fine pattern of vinet flourishing in shell gold. Jesse is nimbed in gold but the drapery is unsophisticated, and the background colours (red and green) are comparatively drab. The inner field of aquamarine (80mm x 52mm) is small in relation to the preceding alternating sequence of burnished gold and aquamarine fields and borders used for the New Testament saints and for Isaiah. The combined effect seems to be designed in order to mute the background so that the septiform grace of the Holy Spirit, by contrast, is irradiated with luminosity. The iconography of this Jesse Tree then, subserves a devotional project which privileges the abstract Gifts of the Spirit through a literal visual interpretation of Isaiah 11.1-3. The illustrations in the Speculum Virginum (MS Arundel 44) are even more muted, consisting of heavy line-drawings in various colours in an expressive Romanesque style. There are two Jesse Trees in this manuscript (ff.2v, 114v), as well as numerous other arboreal images including a Tree of Vices (f.28v) and a Tree of Virtues (f.29r) as well as a depiction of Mystic Paradise (f.13r) and illustration of the Parable of the Sower (f.70) which both employ swirling branch motives. In the first of the Jesse Trees (see fig.2), the genealogy stretches beyond Jesse, to include Booz, who sits with his legs hanging over the bottom border. The main branch sprouts from Boozs chest and bifurcates, with Booz holding on to each branch with each hand. The border extends from left to right (150mm) and upwards on both sides (184mm (l.) and 189mm (r.)) and does not close at the top. There are four medallions (c.30mm diameter) in each corner containing portraits of (clockwise from top-left) the Prophets Isaiah and Zacharias, and Theodora and Peregrinus: the two characters whose dialogue comprises the bulk of the text. In the central line vertically from Booz, in the spaces between the two branches, from bottom-to-top are David (crowned), the Virgin (nimbed) and Christ (with cruciform nimbus). The first two miniatures above Booz, either side of David, are of Jesse (l.) and Obed (r.), in the next row
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Watson notes that the coffin is a unique element in Early Iconography, (1934), 85. The lettering on the borders is deteriorated in all but two of these medallions, but their original import can be deduced by the lettering of those that remain: SPIRITVS SAPIENTIAE and SPIRITVS PIETATIS.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. are four miniatures containing portraits of six virgins, all unnamed. Above these, either side of and facing the virga are two prophets, both nimbed and both unnamed. Christ holds a chalice or gourd in either hand, upturned, from which flows anointing oil in blue ink, which courses down over the miniatures and onto the eight figures just described. Flowing upwards from the top of the cruciform nimbus are seven tendrils, which culminate in seven heart-shaped leaves containing the Gifts of the Spirit, which in turn yield seven flamecoloured petals containing text describing the issue of each gift.10 This Jesse Tree iconography asserts the centrality of the genealogical line and privileges the Gifts of the Spirit as the ultimate flowering of its energy. Its designer seems to have rendered a misprision, however in situating Booz as the originator of the branch, despite incorporating the opening text of Isaiah 11 into the book held up by the miniature in the top left medallion. The prominence of this illustration, as a full-page diagrammatic frontispiece attests to the significance with which its subject matter was invested. Watson writes that it was the most convenient way which the writer could find of expressing figuraliter the main purport of the treatise; viz. an exposition of the redemptive Gifts of the Spirit that would flower in the hearts of the chaste in this life.11 The second employment of Jesse tree iconography (f.114v, see fig.3) is greatly pared down, consisting of only three miniatures, of Jesse, the Virgin and Christ, in a single vertical line, against a background of simple architectural iconography symbolising the seven pillars of the Temple of Wisdom. The top section of the design is by and large the same as that of the frontispiece with its arrangement of petals symbolizing the flowering of the septiformis spiritus. Although it is somewhat crude overall, the colour washes are vibrant with pleasant variation between the three primary miniatures, and the lines are strong, particularly in the vegetal branch and in the multicoloured, perspectivizing bands surrounding the mural designs on the tops of the pillars. The repetition of this Jesse Tree, specifically with its isolation of the spiritual trajectory which yields maximum iconographic and textual significance to the abstract gifts of the spirit, once again reflects a devotional commitment to the realization of spiritual pedagogy by way of visual memory. The Winchester and Shaftesbury Psalters, both dating from around the second quarter of the twelfth century, exhibit similar styles of illumination. They both feature highly expressive pattern-forming damp-folding revealing almond-shaped physiognomic structure, and ending in the characteristic v-folds of hanging fabric drapery. The line of both is heavy and dramatically expressive and in both, the iconography is lucidly expressed and felicitously proportioned. In the Jesse Tree on f.15r of the Shaftesbury Psalter (MS Lansdowne 383, see fig.4), Jesse is recumbent with head to the right and feet left, he is partially covered by a vermillion sheet with a diapered gold fringe. The main branch sprouts from his loins and grows vertically upward. The graphic design is strong with the branch depicted in two shades of green, with two branches that spiral off the main trunk and down to occupy the space between the recumbent figure of Jesse and the Prophets, Abraham (l.) and Moses (r.) standing full-length, above. The branches issue in flowers in red and aquamarine against a gold field; each varied in shape from the other. On the

For an account of each of these texts; see Arthur Watson, The Speculum Virginum in Speculum, vol.3 no.4 (Oct., 1928), 459-460. 1111 Ibid, 459.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. central trunk in order from bottom-to-top are David (crowned against a gold field within a red trefoil border), the Virgin (crowned, with aquamarine wimple against a gold field in a circular red and green border), and Jesus (with cruciform nimbus in green and blue on a gold field in an elliptical border of red). All borders are in two shades, with fine lines in black and white on the leading edges. Six flowers are arrayed at the end of calami around the top of the page, each combination of shape and colour alternating and varied from the other. At the apex is a nimbed dove in a gold medallion bordered with red, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The whole design is against an aquamarine field with white stippling so as to resemble a celestial background. The two prophets on the left and right edges occupy over a third of the height of the entire bordered field, and each hold banderoles containing text in black protogothic script: Abrahams is from Genesis 22.18, In semine tuo benedicentur omnes gentes terre [And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice], Moses from Deuteronomy 18.15, Prophetam dominus suscitabit uobis de fratribus uestris [The lord shall raise up a prophet from among thy bretheren]. Abraham is nimbed in gold, with white stippling round its circumference and wears blue tunic and red cloak. Moses wears a vermilion cloak and green and blue tunics and has a golden belt and long golden horns. Both Prophets look up at Jesus, as if projecting their prophesies into realization, in the image of Christ. Their banderoles hang down and are held in each of Davids hands. The Prophetic figures thus integrate and overarch the division between the Old and New testaments, through their vatic utterances which stretch down into fulfillment in the accession of David as the divinely appointed ruler. The genealogy is pared back to the essential triad and the Holy Spirit is enshrined as the supreme manifestation of the dynastic line, through its position at the very top of the mise en page. This exceptionally lavish full-page miniature is the culmination of a sequence of full-page illuminations depicting Gabriel (f.12v), the Holy Women at the Christs Tomb (f.13r), the Ascension (f.13v), Pentecost (f.14r), and Christ in excelsis (f.14v). Immediately following is the Beatus page (f.15v) and the start of the Psalter text, so that the iconography of the Jesse Tree is situated foremost in the readers memory, on a weekly basis, as the residual image last absorbed before commencing the recitation of the Psalms. In the Tree of Jesse in the Winchester Psalter (f.9r, see fig.5) Jesse lies recumbent with head to the right and feet left, sleeping with his head resting upon his left hand, the tree trunk sprouting from his loins. The composition observes the same iconography as Lansdowne 383, with the main branch yielding three miniatures in order from bottom to top: David (crowned), the Virgin (also crowned) and Jesus (with cruciform nimbus). The damp-fold drapery is highly expressionistic, in almond and teardrop shapes representing the underlying physiognomy. The two prophets on left and right sides are not named, and their banderoles are this time devoid of text. The vegetal flourishing is exquisite, with very strong lines. It admits of much less variation than the Lansdowne manuscript, and has an approximately symmetrical arrangement. The dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit is foregrounded against a tessellating trefoil pattern, representing the top, budding, extent of the tree. Each of the figures in the central tripartite line clasps a branch, bifurcating from the trunk, in each hand. None of the figures is holding a book and Christ is not preaching but looking upward at the Holy Spirit (dove) descending upon Him. Every figure in the

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. composition gazes upwards, so that the trajectory is driven to the fulfillment of the line in the manifestation of the spirit.12 In the Romanesque, and early transitional, employments of the iconography of the Tree of Jesse, the focus seems primarily to have been upon the contemplative and devotional energies that could be harnessed through the pictorial design. In every one of the twelfth century manuscripts I have been able to consider, the design culminates in a flourishing symbol for the Gifts of the Spirit, or the Holy Spirit itself. This has predominantly been realised through the image of the dove, but also as a septiform florilegium. The iconography of the Tree of Jesse in the Siegburg Lectionary is not structured around a genealogical trajectory, but flowers directly into burnished medallions symbolizing the Gifts of the Spirit. The Jesse Trees in the English Romanesque Psalters depict the fundamental triad of David, the Virgin and Christ, with peripheral imagery of the Old Testament prophets that feed into a consideration of the dialectical interplay between the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. In these too, the divine energy powering the growth of the Tree of Jesse is channeled into the flowering of the Holy Spirit, in which it finds its culmination. These Psalters, together with the didactic Speculum Virginum, provided visual iconography that would facilitate the contemplative mode of religious, even mystical experience. The strong and energetic line of Romanesque design was apt to encourage a pellucid and focused trajectory of spiritual discipline, culminating in the contemplation of the numinous. The Grandisson Psalter (BL MS Additional 21926)13 is lavishly illuminated in the early Gothic style with an extensive sequence of 18 diptychs (ff.9r-25r), depicting Suffrages and Christological scenes, against extensive fields of burnished gold leaf. The final diptych in this sequence itself depicts the Final Judgment. Delightfully, the instruments of the angelic trumpeters in the top panel extend into the bottom panel, in which the dead arise from their graves, so that the diptychs dividing frame line demarcates the boundary between celestial and earthbound time, as it is breached in the completion of the eschatological pattern. The next page (f.25v) is the first full-page illumination and is a Jesse Tree, facing onto the Beatus page (f.26r) which sports a lavishly illuminated initial B. The outer border of the Jesse Tree illumination runs 153mm x 102mm and is 5mm deep, alternating deep aquamarine along the top and bottom with ochre, left and right; a thin red line runs all around, and the whole is framed by a thick gold outer border (3mm) all delineated in black line. There are ten rhomboid bosses in burnished gold, three each side, left and right and two on each edge top and bottom, each is flourished with a sgraffito inner rhomboid. In the centre of each edge of the border is a gargoyle motif the plinths of which alternate between ochre and aquamarine; on the left and right of these perch parrots with pale green plumage. In the corners are medallions in aquamarine and red (24mm), with zoomorphic dragon finials, the bottom pair of which have golden plumage.


I have been unable to access a full colour surrogate for this page so unfortunately I cannot comment upon the arrangement of colour in the design. 13 Thought to have been produced, on the basis of the internal evidence of red-letter days in the Kalendar, after 1262 but before 1276; see MS fly-leaf.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. The figure of Jesse was once against a field of burnished gold, but extensive sgraffito reveals a diapered aquamarine field with white crosshatching and red stippling (30mm x 83mm). The figure of Jesse stretches recumbent, under an ochre coverlet with red stippling, occupying most of the lateral field (78mm). The tree sprouts from his loins, its branches in aquamarine, with foliate flourishing in red and green, and bosses in red; all against a field of burnished gold (104mm x 83mm). The main trunk is in ochre and stretches vertically, encircling four miniatures. In bottom to top order these are a King (crowned), a Harpist (David?), a Violinist, and the Virgin, holding the infant Jesus. There are also columns encircling four miniatures on either side left and right, with no particularly marked subordination of the size. On the top and bottom rows, these are of studious characters, perhaps Prophets, sitting, facing inward and reading. In the middle two rows the panels contain figures playing musical instruments: a dulcimer, a pipe-organ, bells etc. Between each miniature are trefoils in aquamarine, and at their lateral points of contact in the top two rows are small red rosettes, flourished with quatrefoils; in the bottom two rows, green foliate flourishing. En masse, this is an exceptionally lavish illumination of great precision and delightful variation and incident. The miniatures containing musical players and non-specific reading characters lodge a type of iconography situated somewhere in-between secular and spiritual concerns: to be sure, musical and literary interpretation are fundamental modes of Christian religious experience, and yet they may be pursued for the pleasure they provide per se. This bilateral appeal strikes a significantly different timbre than the austere Romanesque designs of the twelfth century and prefigures, in its scintillating attention to detail, and humorous execution the dazzlingly extravagant designs of the East Anglian School, which followed early in the following century (see figs.7-9).14 The Jesse Tree that is worked into the historiated initial on the first page of the Salvin Hours (BL MS Additional 48985) exemplifies the gradual transition toward de luxe book production with increasing levels of complexity and extremely lavish colourschemes.15 This particular Book of Hours was likely to have been a bespoke production intended for a private library, rather than an ecclesiastical institution; its staggering profusion of gold, aquamarine and lake further suggest that its original patron was an exceptionally wealthy individual. An inscription in an early modern secretary hand upon one of the fly-leaves further supports the notion that this book originated within, and was passed down through the generations of, a great aristocratic house: This book was I: gift of my vncle, Nicholas Salvin / 1685 / garrard Salvin. The Jesse Tree in this instance occupies an historiated initial D, initalising the sequence DOMINE LABIA MEA APERIES [O, Lord thou wilt open my lips] (Psalm 50.17) on f.1r. The Lombardic D is outlined in

The masterpieces of this School, are the Gorleston Psalter (BL MS Additional 49622), the Saint-Omer Psalter (Additional 39810) and the Howard Psalter-Hours, (Arundel 83). I do not have the space to treat these in detail here, and they have in any event been written about extensively elsewhere, (on the Gorleston Psalter see Cockerell, (1907), and Marks and Morgan (1981), 76-7; on the Saint-Omer Psalter see Cockerell, (1900) and Camille, (1992); on the Howard Psalter-Hours see Sandler (1986), 58-60 and Yapp, (1981), 132-3. On the East Anglian School generally, see E.G.Millar, English Illd. MSS XIV-XV, (1928). I hope that figs. 7-9 demonstrate an iconographic anchorage point to which the illuminations of the Grandisson Psalter and Salvin Hours can be seen to be gravitating. 15 Thought, by Low, to have been produced c.1270.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. twin red ribbons which form a four-way interlace knot (itself interwoven with a rhomboid ribbon in alternating red and aquamarine) at the central points both of the letters upright stem and of its bow. These red ribbons then, frame four alternating fields of diapered lake and aquamarine, which comprise the bulk of the letter. The whole is set against a field of burnished gold leaf, itself flourished with light crosshatched scoring and ornamental pricking. At the leftmost corners of the upright stem, and the four sites on the bow, where the framing ribbons coalesce, sit gargoyles, with the ribbons flowing from their mouths. Branching off these leftmost gargoyles are spiral ribbons in burnished gold that twist through four revolutions. Intertwined with each, top and bottom, are six hounds in pairs: top-to-bottom they are black, white and black in the top spiral, and white, black and brown in the bottom spiral. Also interwoven in these spirals are two human figures, bearing staffs. Around the gold field is a substantial border of alternating diapered aquamarine and lake (216mm x 177mm, at tallest and widest extents), itself framed by a 2mm band alternating burnished gold (for the aquamarine sections) and vermillion (for the lake sections). Underneath the D, and within this frame, is a quadripartite panel of alternating aquamarine and lake containing the text OMINE | LABIA / MEA AP | ERIES; each Lombardic capital letter alternating between variations of lake and aquamarine, with gold flourishing. The Jesse Tree occupies the bow of the D. Jesse is recumbent in a bed, with head to the left and feet right, wearing a red nightgown under dark grey sheets. Its field is 150mm x 115mm at tallest and widest extents. The drapery is naturalistic and exquisitely finely articulated. The tree sprouts from his loins. Its branches are elaborately interlaced and alternate between rich red and deep aquamarine. There are five miniatures in the central vertical branch all with figures set against burnished gold fields, ornamented with pricking. In the bottom is David holding a harp, then, ascending, are three other regal figures, and Jesus at the top, with a nimbus of alternating aquamarine and gold. Between these five fields, on either side, interlaced branches, alternating red and aquamarine, encircle ten further onlookers, each nimbed in gold leaf (pricked) and holding a golden book, looking inward and upward. This brings the total number to fourteen, and so these figures most likely represent fourteen generations in the genealogy of Christ as subdivided in the Liber generationis commencing Matthew 1. Surrounding these are eight further miniatures, four each side, depicting Christological scenes, including an Annunciation, an Annunciation to the Shepherd, a Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi and so forth. Filling out the remaining space is extensive, and very fine, vinet flourishing in red and aquamarine. The interlace branches break out of the very top of the bow, and the outer frame, where two seraphs sit facing in toward the central symbolic dove. Either side of these, ornamental dragons extend outward in aquamarine (l.) and red (r.), both against alternating fields, each with green scales and red wings; their tails scrolling into red and aquamarine vinet with gold and bright green bosses and foliate flourishing. The scale of this production is astonishing. Its precise detail, abundant variation, and copious employment of the most extravagant materials across such a large space would have placed its commission beyond the means of all but the very wealthiest few percentiles of the population of the late thirteenth century. This seems certainly to have been a prestigious production for an elite family, and as such would have made that peculiar

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. intersection between private and public art which is discussed by Michael Baxandall in relation to the fifteenth century: although intended for private circulation, the patronage of such a dazzlingly beautiful work of devotional art would have consolidated the social standing of it commissioners familial rank as well to have satisfied a spiritual desire for Christian salvation.16 In this manner the devotional and socio-political resonances of such textual illuminations can seem increasingly to reinforce or at least encroach upon one another in this period. Moreover, although the Christological and genealogical miniatures (and their iconographic apex in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit) are of a decidedly devotional nature, simultaneously in the intricate diapered patterning, and the sheer beauty of the execution of the whole, together with the minor details of the hound scenes, it is possible to see an augury of the transition to a mode of book production, in which the pleasure provided by its delightful illuminations, was construed as a type of virtue in itself. The Jesse Tree illumination found in Queen Marys Psalter (BL MS Royal 2.B vii) f.67v, is a full-page miniature in contrast to the usual diptych or triptych composition, most frequently used. The Gothic style is highly naturalistic, with pleasant drapery in colour washes that are not particularly strong, against a gold leaf field. The branches of the tree are also naturalistic rather than impressionistic and are of plausible proportions with foliation of natural dimensions. They encircle nine miniatures. The three miniatures of the central line are all kings, and are all seated facing right; the first is King David, bearing a harp. The six miniatures on each side face in toward the central axis, and flowers and fruit fill in the spaces between each miniature. Remarkably, there is no nimbing, the Virgin does not appear, and neither is there a representation of the Holy Spirit or its septiform Gifts. The iconography seems deliberately to effect a shift away from the overt symbolism cohering in antecedent representations of the Jesse Tree, with the effect that its potential as a devotional artifact seems somewhat diminished. The iconography of this design seems not so much about stimulating recognition of the numinous as it is manifested through the Incarnation, as about the value enshrined in heredity per se, within the ruling classes.17 British Library MS Additional 15253 is an imposing Bible, comprised of almost 330 single-folio pages.18 On f.265r, marking the beginning of the Liber generationis at the outset of the Gospel of St. Matthew, is an historiated initial L, stretching over the height of twenty-five writing lines, and containing an exquisitely finely realized Tree of Jesse (145mm x 47mm, at tallest and widest edges). It is set against a brightly burnished gold field, framed in black pen line, set off against a pale green outline. Jesse is recumbent in an aquamarine gown with under a red coverlet and green bed sheet, his head is right and feet left. The drapery is very fine and naturalistic. To his right figure seated at a desk, reading an open book, wearing red and green robes. This maybe Matthew or perhaps a portrait of a patron, in any event its inclusion facilitates the extension of the bottom stroke of the Lshape. The tree sprouts from his loins with branches in aquamarine and ochre flourished with alternating aquamarine and red trefoils, ascending in a single genealogical branch, encircling miniatures, from bottom-to-top of David, nimbed and crowned in aquamarine
16 17

See Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, (Oxford, 1972; 1988), 1-28. Cf. Anne Rudolff Stanton on the unusual omission of the Virgin from the Jesse Tree on this page, in QMP: A Study of Affect and Audience, (Philadelphia, 2001), 146-49. 18 Of French provenance, thought to be c.1275-1300; see Low (2006), 17.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. robes bearing a red harp; another King, crowned, with red scepter and red and green robes; then the Virgin, nimbed with aquamarine robe and red crown, holding book; and finally Jesus with a red cruciform nimbus, red and green gowns with right hand raised, preaching, holding book in left hand. From the top of Jesus head the septiform Gifts of the Spirit are visualized as doves in medallions alternating dark red and aquamarine, with alternating dark red and pink rosettes between each. Another, yet more imposing Bible, (BL MS Additional 18720)19 comprising over 520 single-folio leaves, includes an extremely lavish and visually beautiful Jesse Tree, again at the division marking the beginning of the Gospel of St. Matthew (f.410r, see fig.6). The illumination falls somewhere between naturalistic Gothic, and early Renaissance styles. The Tree again fills out a historiated L, which in this text stretches beyond the complete height of the writing space of fifty-five lines (295mm x 90mm, along left and bottom edges). The writing space is in double columns and extends 267mm x 160mm in total. Jesse lies recumbent, head right, along the bottom stroke of the L, draped exquisitely in a vibrant aquamarine shroud, upon a crimson cushion. The field is of brightly burnished gold, with scored ornamentation round the edges. The tree sprouts from his loins, and alternates between green, grey, lake, red, and blue; each colour has at least three different shades, and each section is finely foliated. There are four Kings (crowned, each in varied doublet, hose and cloak), the Virgin (nimbed, in aquamarine wimple) and Christ (in aquamarine gown with cruciform nimbus). Branches on the left and right encircle a further fourteen seated characters all seated, facing inward all wearing coloured clothing, varied from each other. In the bas de page is a triptych of medallions (55mm) with deep aquamarine fields containing exquisitely detailed miniatures of, from left-to-right, the Annunciation the Nativity and a third scene featuring Mary with the infant Jesus, Joseph, and a third male character. Extensive acanthus flourishing surrounds these miniatures, alternating between the full range of colours making up the rest of the illumination; this extends up the left hand margin and across the top; in each corner of which sit two studious characters reading parchment sheets. Both of these impressive tomes seem like ecclesiastical, rather than private texts. MS Additional 15253, contains on many, but by no means all, of its pages a glossary, in extremely small textura, flourished in red, and extending out to the limit of the page-edges, suggesting its function as an open-ended ecclesiastical text. In MS Additional 18720 there is a remarkable physical resemblance between the depictions of Joseph and Jesse, which is not reflected in any of the other portraiture. It is tempting to reflect that these two figures may comprise a form of embedded portraiture, incorporated in service of the flattery of a patron. It may then be the case that this is a bespoke text commissioned by a merchant or nobleman, for the benefit of his local congregation; the exceedingly precise organisation and variation of its elements may also point toward this. In both cases, the increasingly professionalized techniques of manuscript illumination can be seen to serve devotional and social purposes simultaneously: mediating aesthetic objects of intrinsic value and delight, the products of a new cadre of urban creative professionals, which nevertheless satisfied the spiritual needs of the many, while consolidating the political prestige of the elite few.

Attributed to a Bolognese Master of the trecento, by Count Ehrbach von Fuerstenau in LArte, (1911); see The Burlington Magazine, vol.19 no.100 (Jul. 1911), 247.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words.

Finally, by way of a coda, and necessarily making a rather abrupt transition to the sixteenth century, I wish now to look at two texts which attest the extraordinary persistence of the iconography of the Tree of Jesse, as a trope of cultural memory. In the frontispiece to the 1550 edition of Halls Chronicle, the iconography of the Jesse Tree emerges from the shadow of the iconoclasm of the Reformation, and is employed in order to symbolize the dynastic lineages of the Houses of York and Lancaster (BL 683.h.15). The Biblical dimension of the genealogy has been completely effaced (like so many statues, hagiographies and Suffrages before it), the literal-visual metaphor of the family tree here employed wholly politically as an item of pro-Tudor propaganda. Its links with the medieval iconography of the Jesse Tree are made clear by the recumbent postures of the two originators of the dynastic lineages, John, Dvke of Lancastre at bottom-left and Edmvund, Dvke of Yorke, bottom-right. The rose plants sprout upwards and encircle ten generations, until their meeting in the huge Tudor Rose motif which provides the platform for a head-on portrait of Henry VIII. Although Henry did not live to see this edition go into print, its iconographic piracy was particularly germane to his endeavours, ideologically to model his royal iconography upon that of the regal prototypes of the Old Testament.20 In literally having supplanting the devotional appeal of the Tree of Jesse, the designers of this frontispiece audaciously re-enacted, in discursive and cultural terms, Henrys selfappointment as principal Defender of the Faith in England. Almost three decades later, the Jesse Tree emerges once again, reinstalled in a religious, albeit Protestant, context for its appearance on the frontispiece of Richard Days 1578 edition of A Booke of Christian Prayers (Oxford Bodleian Tanner 285). The iconography of this Tree is conventional, tracing the genealogy of Christ up through several generations from a recumbent Jesse, to a nimbed infant in the arms of an irradiated figure of the Virgin. As in Halls Chronicle, however, the ultimate flower is a Tudor Rose, so that by iconographic association, Elizabeth the Virgin Queen is identified with the Virgin; herself originally associated with the virga or rod of Jesse through a process of exegetical abstraction, over a millennium beforehand.21 The long and varied trajectory undertaken by the iconography of the Tree of Jesse, in the course of its development between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, bears witness to a fundamental transition in the nature, function, format and appeal of religious texts, and of textuality per se in this period: of its aesthetic modes and its modes of production, of the ideological superstructures binding and authenticating that production, and its means of distribution throughout the widening compass of the literate classes of medieval Europe. The powerfully austere and expressionistically dynamic lines and compositions of the Romanesque period stand in antithesis to the festal cornucopia dazzlingly worked through in the carnivalesque style of the East Anglian School, as much as against the more restrained, naturalistic aesthetic of the Queen Mary Psalter School. As the technology and craftsmanship involved in draughtsmanship and bookmaking, devolved from monastic scriptoria into urban centres, the newly professionalized book industry, was beginning to
20 21

See John N. King, Henry VIII as David in Rethinking the Henrician Era, (Chicago, 1994), 78-92. See King, Tudor Royal Iconography, (Princeton, 1989), 112-115, 200-201.

Some Observations on the Iconography of the Tree of Jesse in Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books between XIIth and XVIth centuries. Hilary Term B-Course paper 2008 Candidate No. 603937 6969 words. tailor its productions to the exact specifications of an elite readership. The elaborate and lavishly illuminated texts (Psalters and Books of Hours), of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, that were destined for the private libraries of great houses, demonstrate, to varying degrees, the submergence of the mystical trajectory exemplified in the earlier iconography, and the amplification of a sense that the glittering surface of the text, with its incident, humour, and dazzling variation could provide value and reward in and of itself. In the Salvin Hours and the Grandisson Psalter, it is possible to detect the preliminary emergence of this aesthetic sensibility, which in the fullness of its development would issue in the masterpieces of the East Anglian School. The ideological import of the illuminated manuscript book, became increasingly split, or rather merged, between religious and social claims, as secular imagery infiltrated the pages of religious texts, so religious texts became the esteemed commodities of the laity, living outside ecclesiastical institutions. The trope of the Jesse Tree proved an immensely versatile and enduring iconographic datum throughout the medieval period, surviving even the Reformation as it was co-opted into the discourse of one of Europes most fervently iconoclastic dynasties. The Tree of Jesse was in the first instance a synthetic imaginary construct, and its cultural persistence, must in no small wise come down to its bilateral appeal to the religious contemplation of the Incarnation, as a keystone between the Old and New Testaments, as much as its powerful assertion of the privilege enshrined in genealogy: one of the central preoccupations of that ruling class with the means and the desire to stock their shelves with such wonderfully illustrated books.