In the field of manuscript studies, the name Humfrey Wanley (1672-1726) is well known. Scholars have long recognized his achievements as Anglo-Saxonist, antiquarian, palaeographer, cataloguer, and librarian to Robert Harley and his son, Edward, 1st and 2nd earls of Oxford, who created one of the most outstanding private libraries in eighteenth-century Europe. However, Wanley’s interest in the visual arts, particularly the pictorial content of illuminated manuscripts, has not been widely acknowledged. This aspect of Wanley’s intellectual development is explored in the present article, set against the larger context of the many and varied activities in which the indefatigable Wanley engaged, most significantly the acquisition and cataloguing of manuscripts for the Harleys.
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