The Claricia Psalter, folio 8 recto (the front-side of the 8th leaf), late 12th- to early 13th-century
The Claricia Psalter gets its name from one of its initials. A girl swings from the bowl of a Q, and actually serves as the tail of the letter. By her head, the name Claricia is written. The common belief is that this is the illuminator’s self-portrait. Now, we know that the psalter was made for a group of Benedictine nuns in Germany, but some take it further and think that the psalter was even made by these women. If this is case, Claricia might actually be one of the nuns, or at least a lay student in the convent.
It certainly is nice to see some female representation in the illustrating/illuminating field.
It’s just too bad that Claricia wasn’t that great of an artist.
When I first saw the image above, I was startled as to how similar it looked to a Nativity scene I had drawn in Sunday School when I was in the second or third grade. Ran out of brown crayon? Not a problem – just use green for that tower. Don’t know what an ox looks like? No worries – just draw some sort of animal and stick horns on it. No ruler handy? Don’t fret – draw those towers freehand. I mean, it’s not like towers actually need to be straight to stay standing.
And why is Mary so sad? Baby Jesus looks like he’s trying to console her, to no avail. Maybe she’s suffering from post-partum depression? I hope not. Maybe Joseph could make her feel better.
Oh wait. Joseph seems to have ditched the scene. Now I think I know why Mary is sad.