Stuttgart Psalter

Bibl. fol. 23 - Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)

Alternate Titles:

Stuttgart Picture Psalter, Stuttgarter Bilderpsalter, Psautier de Stuttgart

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Alternate Titles

Stuttgart Picture Psalter
Stuttgarter Bilderpsalter
Psautier de Stuttgart

Extent / Format

336 pages / 26.5 x 17.5 cm


Book of Psalms according to the Gallican Rite


316 colorful miniatures, 162 decorated initials

Former owners

Charles II Duke of Wurtemberg


Carolingian miniscule

Short description

One can come up with a few superlatives Stuttgart Psalter straight away: the most important manuscript of the Württembergischen Landesbibliothek, the most richly illustrated Carolingian psalter of outstanding quality. Originating at the beginning of the 9th century in St. Germain-des- Prés, its provenance and history are wrapped in mystery. Nevertheless, since its scholarly discovery 1,000 years after its genesis, the manuscript of the Stuttgart Psalter amazes just about every connoisseur and lover of Carolingian illumination!

Facsimile editions available


Stuttgart Psalter

A variety of gorgeous miniatures illustrate the Stuttgart Psalter, be it Christ on the cross as redeemer of mankind, an enthroned monarch before a grandiose backdrop, enigmatic scenes with fantastic beasts, or impressive depictions of everyday life. It is no coincidence that it is also famous as the so-called Stuttgart Picture-Psalter. Liveliness is probably the appropriate term for the gorgeous overall impression, which the numerous illustrative depictions evoke for the beholder.

A Psalter Rich in Imagery

The 150 Latin Psalms – important parts of Christian liturgy – are adorned with 316 miniatures and 162 initials on 300 pages. These illustrations stand firmly in the tradition of great Carolingian illumination. A few of the miniatures were probably based on ancient originals. Nonetheless, the visual adornment gives information about the time of the psalter’s genesis, e.g. an inside view into clothing and fashion. Individual motifs often overrun the edge of the framing background. This is not only an indication of the great master of their art who was at work here and innovatively conceived of and created an outstanding Carolingian illuminated manuscript.

A French Masterpiece

Whoever created this splendor remains unknown today. Nevertheless, it is generally agreed among researchers that the Stuttgart Psalter originated between 820 and 830 and is a masterpiece from the scriptorium of St. Germain-des-Prés in Paris. This important place of origin was the burial site for kings and the richest abbeys around Paris at that time. Yet even the patron and the circumstances of its genesis remain an unsolved mystery today, just like the further provenance of the psalter.

A Gift for the Prince Elector

The manuscript is named after its modern repository, the Württembergischen Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart. It probably came there at the end of the 18th century as a gift from Danial Gottlieb Friedrich Faber to Prince-Elector Carl Eugen von Württemberg, who had recently founded the library. 1,000 years after its creations, the manuscript finally enjoyed its due consideration and academic attention, e.g. a first description in the travelogue of an English librarian.

Admired and Coveted

The amazement and wonder with which the Stuttgart Psalter was met was not merely for its own benefit. In the course of the 20th century, the codex has been disassembled several times and presented in exhibitions and could only be elaborately restored for the first time a decade ago. Today, this gem of Carolingian illumination presents itself in its original luster.

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