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Masterpieces  / Psalter

Text: Author: Family: Time:  
King David with two Musicians and two Dancers (Ref:1172)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: IX century

David is depicted under an arch spanning two twisted columns, in front of a purple ground; he is beardless and clad in a short skirt. A young and active person, he does not really feel at ease on his throne with the slanted footstool in front of him. Gazing up to the top left, he appears about to use the plucking stick in his right hand to play the string instrument on his left thigh. David’s performance seems to be inspired by the angel in the left-hand spandrel of the surrounding arch. Seated high up in the arch, the young psalmist is the protagonist of the scene. The angel on the top left, and the Hand of God appearing in the right-hand spandrel of the arch are both pointing to him.

Isaiah at Prayer (Ref:1119)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: X century

This magnificent miniature showing the prophet Isaiah at prayer, between Nyx, the night and Orthros, the young day, belongs to the world-famous book of psalms known as the Paris Psalter. It is an X century manuscript from Byzantium, from the metropolis Constantinople and was brought to Paris, only in the year 1557/9, by the ambassador Jean Hurault de Boistaillé. The Psalter takes its place in the history of art as a prominent witness to the “Macedonian Renaissance”. Following the extended and destructive crisis of Iconoclasm (726-843), when the worship of images and indeed all representation of religious figures were forbidden, and many artists fled from Byzantium, a revival of Byzantine art and science occurred in the IX century under the Macedonian emperors. With the approval of the Roman Court and Hellenistic, models appeared in art in a classical Rebirth, side by side with the Christian subject matter.

Visitatio (Ref:1137)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XII century

In 1099 during the First Crusade, Franconian knights under Godfrey of Bouillon had conquered Jerusalem and its surroundings. This region, now governed by Christians, became a temporary state organized according to the western principles. Their first king, Baldwin, Earl of Boulogne and Edessa (from 1098), a brother of Godfrey, was crowned in Jerusalem in 1100. His successor, Baldwin II, a nephew of Godfrey resigned from 1118 until his death in 1131. On September 14th of this year his eldest daughter, Melisande (Melisenda) was crowned at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, together with her husband, Fulco of Anjou. His marriage to Melisande was his second. This brought great prestige to the royal family of Jerusalem. Fulco’s son from his first marriage, Geoffrey of Anjou, called Plantagenet, founded the Plantagenet dynasty in England in 1128 on marrying the English princess and dowager empress, Mathilde.

The Crucifixion (Ref:1114)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XII century

Descriptive text in German

The Tree of Jesse (Ref:1121)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XII century

The tree of Jesse, giving the genealogy of Christ from his ancestor Jesse (Isaiah), father of David, onwards, was a favorite motif in medieval art of the XI century. One of the most beautiful examples is the full-page miniature, le gesse in the Psalter of Queen Ingeborg. It is a masterpiece of French book-painting from the time of King Philippe-Auguste when the native French painting tradition was newly stimulated by elements of English and Byzantine art. In the history of book-painting, it belongs to the transitional period between the late Romanesque and the arrival of Gothic. In this, above all, the workshops in Northern France were pioneering.

This miniature of the tree of Jesse in the Ingeborg Psalter is a particularly well-balanced composition in which the elements are concentrated into the most important details and simplified. The portrayal of figures was also perceived in a new way.

The Dream of the Magi (Ref:1170)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XIII century

The depiction of St. Matthew’s Gospel, verse 2:12, from the narrative of the Three Magi, is among the most astonishing motives of Romanesque art. After the kings brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the Gospel continues: “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” Rather than God himself, most pictures show an angel, and some of them belong to the finest extant depictions of sleep and dream, although none of them attempt to illustrate the contents of the dream.

Joseph and his Brothers (Ref:1112)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: IX century

Louis IX, King of France, who was to be canonized after his death, understood himself as God’s deputy in the succession of Christ. A great event in the King’s life was his acquisition of Christ’s Crown of Thorns in 1239. In honor of the precious relic, Louis built the Sainte Chapelle in Paris (1243-48). The chapel became a symbol of his religious conception of politics and a climax in the spiritual development of Gothic architecture. Its companion piece in the painting is the small-sized Psalter, now comprising 260 parchment leaves with 78 gilded miniatures of various scenes from the Old Testament. The valuable manuscript was intended to be used for the liturgy in the Royal Holy Chapel. The architecture of the chapel provides the leading motif for all miniatures in the Psalter. Each picture represents, at least, two narrative scenes separated by slim Gothic columns. The present picture combines three events: Joseph ascends on a ladder to leave the well into which he had been thrown by his brothers (Moses, 37,25 ff.). In the absence of Ruben, Joseph is sold to some passing merchants. In the third scene (right) Ruben, who has come to rescue his brother, stands mournfully at the empty well. His figure is stressed like that of Joseph by the pointed head of the Israelite`s.

The magi (Ref:1146)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XIII century

Representation in the temple (Ref:1139)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XII century

Scenes From the Childhood of Christ (Ref:1147)

Author:

Family: Psalter    Time: XIV century

The Oscott Psalter, exceptionally copious in its decoration, is named after the place where it was kept during the 19th century: St Mary’s College in Oscott near Birmingham. As mentioned in the entry on the last page (fol 257v) the manuscript was given to the college by Charles of Ince Blundell Hall in Lancashire (died 1887).Since 1908 the Oscott Psalter was part of the famous collection owned by D.W. Dyson Perrins. His library included medieval manuscripts of great value as well as early prints of the Italian Renaissance. Between 1956 and 1960 the collection was partly sold directly, partly put to auction. In 1958 the Oscott Psalter - as a major work of the 13th century - came with 255 leaves into the possession of the British Museum (today the British Library).

       
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