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The Ingeborg Psalter
Gothic book art in radiant gold
Chantilly, Musée Condé, Ms. 9 olim 1695, Northern France, around 1200

CODICES SELECTI, Vol. LXXX

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Further Pictures

 

he final decades of the 12th century marked the absolute culmination of artistic creation in Paris and the surrounding provinces. In this period of transition and stylistic change before 1200, one of the most significant and luxurious manuscripts of the early Gothic was created: the Ingeborg Psalter. The book is named after its first owner Ingeborg, a Danish princess and the spouse of King Philip II August of France, who was expelled by her husband for unknown reasons shortly after their wedding.

A Bible picture book

The Psalter begins with a richly embellished Beatus initial and the text of the following 150 psalms is written in a luxury book script called ”littera psalteralis”.
From a historic point of view, this type of manuscript constitutes a foregoer of the Book of Hours which flourished in the so-called ”livre d’heures” of Flemish painting in the 14th and 15th centuries. The beginnings of both psalms and other texts are marked with initials, most of which contain ornamental decoration. Some of the psalms are ornate with large figural initials depicting scenes from the life of David.

51 golden miniatures

The real significance of the Ingeborg Psalter, however, lies in the large number of unusually elaborate miniatures whose decisively new style and design clearly distinguished it from Romanesque predecessors and greatly influenced the art of illumination in the Gothic period.
27 miniature pages, most of which show two scenes superimposed on one another, depict important episodes from the lives of Abraham and Moses. They are followed by the root of Jesse marking the transition between the Old and the New Testaments, and further by miniatures based on themes taken from the life of Christ, ranging from the Annunciation to the Assumption, from Pentecost to the Last Judgement and the Death and Coronation of the Virgin, down to scenes extracted from the legend of Theophilus. In this popular medieval epic, the sinner Theophilus devotes himself to the Devil and is saved by the Virgin Mary, thus introducing the Faustian motive for the very first time.

The facsimile edition

All 400 pages of the manuscript are reproduced in the original format of 30.4 x 20.4 cm, including 51 miniatures, in an edition limited to 500 copies. The binding is made of genuine embossed leather.
The commentary volume describes the fascinating history of the manuscript and its background and provides a comprehensive explanation of the miniatures.

   
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