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John Siferwas

(fl. c. 1370—1431) manuscript artist


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(b c.1360; d c.1430). English illuminator, a Dominican friar. Siferwas is the first English illuminator whose career can be followed to some extent through documentary references and signed works. He was ordained a priest in London in 1382 and he probably trained as an artist there, but all his known work was done for religious houses in the south-west of England. His most important manuscript is the Sherborne missal (c.1405, BL, London), a very large and sumptuous book made for Sherborne Abbey, Dorset. It is a masterpiece of the International Gothic style, the decoration including much flora and fauna, including some particularly sensitive depictions of birds. His other main work is the Lovell Lectionary (c.1400, BL, London), commissioned by John, 5th Lord Lovell of Titchmarsh, as a gift for Salisbury Cathedral (a lectionary is a book of extracts from the Bible appointed to be read at religious services). It includes a miniature of the artist (in Dominican habit) presenting the book to Lovell—one of the most remarkable self-portraits in medieval art. Siferwas included smaller self-portraits in the Sherborne Missal.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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