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Psalter

Psalterium

Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
England; Late 13th Century
Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script
17 by 11 cm

Illuminated Psalters occur as early as the 8th century, and from the 9th to the beginning of the 14th century they predominate among illuminated manuscripts. About 1220 A.D., portable manuscript volumes supplanted the huge tomes favored in the preceding century. This change in size caused the creation of a more angular and compact script. In general, smaller initial letters were used, and writing was done in double columns.

At this time the pendant tails of the initial letters are rigid or only slightly wavy, with a few leaves springing from the ends. Later, they became free scrolls, with luxurious foliage, and were extended into all the margins. The blue and lake (orange-red) color scheme with accents of white is a carry-over from the Westminister tradition which prevailed in the previous century. The solid line-filling ornaments at the ends of the verses were a new feature added in the second half of the 13th century. Silver and alloys of gold are used on this leaf.
Keywords: 1200s, Bible, decoration, England, formal, gothic, initials, Old Testament, Psalter, script

Manuscripts | Cary Collection