(active c. 1150 in Canterbury)

The Monk Eadwine

c. 1150
Manuscript (Ms. R.17.I), 457 x 330 mm
Trinity College, Cambridge

In the early Middle Ages monasteries were virtually the only source of literacy and of books. The copying of manuscripts, a highly specialized skill, was rewarded with appropriate esteem, and a number of scribes are known by name. The detailed organization of a monastic scriptorium is still imperfectly known, but illustrations show desks and writing materials.

The monk Eadwine, the prince of scribes (as the inscription calls him) is shown in this mid-twelfth-century portrait (folio 283v) in a luxury glossed Psalter written at the cathedral priory of Christ Church, Canterbury. Eadwine is working with a pen and a knife together.

Once assumed to be a self-portrait, this celebrated picture is perhaps commemorative of a famous Canterbury scribe of the past.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.