PSALTER, with Calendar, Canticles etc, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Brabant or Hainault, c.1280]
130 x 90 mm, i + 229 + i leaves, the calendar and final, unwritten, leaf unfoliated, pencil foliation from beginning of Psalter, 1-223 followed here: 15(of 6, lacking vi), 19(ix a singleton), 3-278, 282(unwritten, structure unclear), 2910, 303, signatures, 17 lines in black ink written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 18 horizontals, the first and last two lines extending across the page, ruled in brown, justification: 76 x 33mm, vertical prickings on some calendar leaves, a different scribe added ff.221v-223v with rubrics and one-line initials in red, text capitals touched red, otherwise rubrics in red, one-line initials alternately blue flourished with red and gold flourished with blue, line-endings in varied patterns of red and blue, two-line initials of burnished gold alternately with blue infills decorated with white leaf stems on red grounds, or red infills on blue grounds, one five-line initial with entwined scrolls in burnished gold with pink infill on a blue ground with white decoration, one four-line initial in burnished gold with blue infill patterned with white on a pink ground, NINE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS six to eight lines high with staves of blue and/or pink with white decoration with foliate terminals on grounds of pink or blue, framed in burnished gold extending into the margins, and with burnished gold infills as backgrounds to the scenes, ONE FULL-PAGE HISTORIATED INITIAL with staves of blue and pink with white decoration with foliate or beast head terminals, on a ground of blue patterned with pink and white above, and of pink patterned with white below, framed in burnished gold, infill of burnished gold as background to scenes, stitching holes from lost guards over historiated initials, four last lines of f.143v erased and verses 5-8 of Ps.113 written in a different hand in brown ink with more thickly flourished initials, additions and corrections in some margins, ferial annotation written vertically down outer margin f.30, fifteenth-century hand repeated verse 6 of Ps.51 at the top of the page (early repair to outer margin f.22, small tears to outer margins of ff.99, 117, 125, smudging to some two-line initials, rubrics on opening folio rubbed, slightly cropped). Modern brown morocco.
1. The Calendar (lacking November and December) is indicative of the southern Netherlands. It does not conform to the Liège Calendar, although it includes many of the canonised bishops of Maastricht-Tongeren: Servatius (13 May), Gundulf and Monulf (16 July), Remacle (3 Sept), Theodard (10 Sept), the red line through Lambert (17 Sept) may indicate that his feast should have been written in red, Severinus (3 Oct); other feasts are associated with Hainault: Aldegund (30 Jan), Waudru (9 April), Amalberga (9 July); and with Brabant: Gudula (8 Jan), Gertrude (16 March), Foillan (31 Oct), suggesting a possible association with the bishopric of Cambrai, chief patron Géry appearing (11 Aug). The commemoration of Amand on 26 Oct, his ordination and translation, might suggest a particular association with the abbey of St Amand near Tournai; St Firmin (25 Sept) and St Quentin (31 Oct) are also included. The Litany shows some similarities with Liège books, notably with Lambert, Gereon, Amand, Gertrude and Oda, but Aldegund is also invoked as is Bavo, particularly revered in Ghent (J. Oliver, Manuscript IIllumination in the diocese of Liège). The Office of the Dead is very close to that recorded for Brussels; Ottosen lists one instance of this sequence of responses as an unidentified use from a manuscript of 1200-1220 with Quaritch (The Responsicles and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, 1993, p.176).
2. The added Psalter of the Virgin has some rubrics in Dutch, f.233.
Calendar, lacking November and December, ff.i-v; Psalter ff.1-182v; Canticles ff.182v-200v; Litany and prayers (including Nicolas, Catherine, Mary Magdalen) ff.201-208; Office of the Dead ff.212-219; Commendation of souls ff.219-221; Psalter of the Virgin in a different hand with some rubrics in Dutch, ff.221v-223v
The Psalter was the most popular book for private devotion at this date and Psalters of this type were made across the southern Netherlands and in Northern France. The liturgical evidence points to a textual model from southern or central Brabant or possibly Hainault.
The full-page opening initial, with the opening words written along the lower section, and the comparatively simple extensions of the initial frames into the margins suggest a date around 1280. The sequence of David illustrations is French in origin, with the scene of Doeg being popularised first in England, and the choice of subjects has been associated particularly with Picardy: G. Haseloff, Die Psalterillustration im 13. Jahrhundert, (1938). They are virtually the same as those in another Psalter attributed tentatively to Brussels, sold in these rooms, 29 June 1994, lot 30. The painting style is also French in origin, with the faces detailed in line and contours reinforced by dark outlines to create surface pattern rather than spatial illusion. The lively figures, predominantly in blue, orange and pink, are silhouetted against the grounds of burnished gold, so that they echo the gold and colours of the numerous illuminated letters in the text. The clear structuring of the text through the elegant illuminated initials makes the appeal of these volumes to the laity easy to understand, an appeal reinforced by the strength of their straightforward, yet glamorously golden, illustrations.
The full-page historiated initial contains David playing the harp and David and Goliath f.1v.
The subjects of the smaller historiated initials are as follows:
David pointing to his eye as he goes down on one knee before the Lord f.29v, David enthroned points to his mouth below the Lord f.47v, Doeg beheading Ahimalech f.63v, the fool with loaf and club stands beside God f.64v, David stands in the waters, divided from God above by the stave of the letter f.81, David playing the bells f.102, two clerics singing before a lectern f.121, David kneels before the Lord f.123v,
the Dove of the Holy Ghost between the two other Persons of the Trinity f.141