De Lisle Psalter

Arundel 83 II - British Library (London, United Kingdom)

Alternate Titles:

Il Salterio di Robert de Lisle, Psalter des Robert de Lisle

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Il Salterio di Robert de Lisle
Psalter des Robert de Lisle

Type
Extent / Format

38 pages / 35.0 x 23.0 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1310-1320
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Robert De Lisle

Artist / School

The Madonna Master
The Majesty Master
London Court school
Jean Pucelle influence

Illustrations

33 partly full-page miniatures illustrating biblical events, 12 full-page illustrated theological diagrams, one schematic representation without figural decoration, and a calendar

Former owners

William Howard, Lord of Naworth

Short description

The Compendium of 38 continuous, illuminated pages, which today can be found in the British Library in London, gives a notion of the unparalleled grandeur of the Psalter. Crafted in the typical English fashion of the High Middle Ages by great masters of the time, De Lisle Psalter (without the lost Psalter text) contains a considerable series of theological diagrams and allegories. The 24 miniatures and picture sequences beam in light colors and ever valuable gold.

Facsimile editions available

Description

De Lisle Psalter

The Compendium of 38 continuous, illuminated pages, which today can be found in the British Library in London, gives a notion of the unparalleled grandeur of the Psalter. Crafted in the typical English fashion of the High Middle Ages by great masters of the time, De Lisle Psalter (without the lost Psalter text) contains a considerable series of theological diagrams and allegories. The 24 miniatures and picture sequences beam in light colors and ever valuable gold.

Artfully Crafted Manuscript

The De Lisle Psalter is a masterpiece of the English Gothic style. With the highly artful arrangement of the miniatures, the script appears to be nearly kingly in outlook. Well known elements out of English and French Gothic architecture were implemented within the manuscript. This evocates the High Middle Age style of English Altar and Panel painting. The 38 contained pages of the original Psalter are continuously animated. At the beginning lies a 12-part calendar, embroidered with fine leaflets and costly initials. After that follows the large-scaled miniature pages: the so-called speculum theologiae, a collection of various theological diagrams. For example, there is the Tree of Life, a Bhavacakra with a timetable of the lifespan of Mankind, and a board with the Ten Commandments. Next to those are several miniatures with scenes from the life Life of Christ, where biblical stories are therein established.

Great English Art

In these miniature pages, one can witness the full breathe of skill of the artists. On the side of the Psalter, two artists were given credit: around 1310 the greater part of the manuscript was completed by the so-called Madonna-Master. This person formed the manuscript in the typical style of the English Gothic period. Shortly after Robert de Lisle gave the work to his daughter, the so-called Maiestas-Master, Jean Pucelle, finalized the Psalter with 5 further miniature pages in the French style.
The miniatures will win one over at the very first glance through the specially complicating framing form, which is richly varied. A multiplicity of the different ornaments aid the background pictures scenes. The finest and most charming ornament patterns are divided in a grid-line design. This specifically points towards an Islamic influence, which spanned from Spain to the rest of Europe. England’s connection to Spain at the time was through *King Edward 1’s** wife, Eleonore of Castile. Above all, next to the ornamentation, is the stupendously modeled tenderness of physique. Bright colors and rich, golden chasing dictate the entire artful display of the script.

Top Book Treasure

The Psalter was originally the property of the English Baron and Parliamentarian Robert de Lisle (1288-1344). He would decide later in life to join a monastery, which led him to give the valuable manuscript to his daughter. Eventually the Psalter came into the hands of the Howard Family, the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel. Henry Howard, a passionate collection of art, was the last owner in the family, for he chose to pass to the book on to the London Royal Society in the 16th Century. In 1831 the British Library purchased the compendium—among another 500 scripts—from the Arundels, which included the De Lisle Psalter, which was tied with the Howard Psalter as well. The De Lisle Psalter is presented there with the Lindisfarne Book, the Bedford Book of Hours, and other highly valuable manuscripts, serving as one of the principal highlights and visitor magnets of the entire exhibit.

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