A shining golden example of early international cultural exchange: the great melange of European art traditions commissioned by Anne of Bohemia

Breslau Psalter

Breslau (Poland) — 1255–1267

Breslau Psalter

Breslau Psalter

Breslau (Poland) — 1255–1267

  1. At least seven Silesian artists under the direction of Giovanni da Gaibana created this marvelous work

  2. The artwork is characterized by an extravagant clash of various influences from European illumination

  3. It is an outstanding example for the international cultural exchange between East and West, North and South

Der Breslauer Psalter

Breslau Psalter

Marginal Drolleries

The margins of this manuscript’s text pages are filled with entertaining animals, people, and animal-human hybrids of an extremely high quality. A strange creature approaches from the left, it is armless with a blue body resembling a horse’s backside and a hooded black human face. A bald man with a macabre look on his face is about to swing a large club in the manner of a batter playing baseball. On the right, a young man appears to be watching the conflict with his head cradled in his hand.

Breslau Psalter

Alternative Titles:
  • Der Breslauer Psalter
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology
Short Description

The Breslau Psalter fascinates its beholders with the extravagance of its design and with the clash of various influences from European illumination. The splendid manuscript originated between 1255 and 1267 in western Poland** and assembles 27 full-page miniatures, 168 marginal miniatures, 36 calendar medallions, 10 decorated initial pages, as well as numerous ornaments and figurative scenes in the margins of its 294 pages. While German scribes were responsible for the text of the 150 Psalms and Old Testament hymns, Giovanni da Gaibana, an illuminator originating from Padua, assumed the supervision of the painters. An entire team of Silesian artists worked under him, conjuring up the great wealth of depictions according to his specifications. It was only in this manner that such fanciful architectures with eastern cupolas and an occidental repertoire of forms could come to be.

Breslau Psalter

In the unique Breslau Psaltervarious influences of European illumination come alive in a most impressive way. Originating in Breslau between 1255 and 1267, the manuscript was furnished by at least seven Silesian artists, who worked under the direction of the Italian Giovanni da Gaibana. Altogether, they conjured up 27 full-page miniatures, 168 marginal miniatures, 36 calendar medallions, 10 decorated initial pages, as well as numerous ornaments and figurative scenes in the margins.

An Example of European Illumination

The Breslau Psalter is an outstanding example for the cultural exchange between East and West, North and South. While German scribes were responsible for the text of the Psalms and Old Testament hymns, Giovanni da Gaibana, an illuminator originating from Padua, was the primary master of the miniatures. An entire team of Silesian painters worked under him, who supported him with the creation of a great number of illustrations. It was only in this manner that such a visual world could come to be, which connects the **shimmering gold background and eastern cupolas with the occidental repertoire of forms.

A Great Wealth of Adornment

Each of the Psalms and hymns is furnished with its own picture, the result of which is that space for up to three depictions sometimes had to be found on a page. This high density of miniatures is even more astounding when one looks at them more closely and discovers the comprehensive visual language and the great diversity of motifs. Thus, the figures do not find themselves in front of a shimmering gold background, but rather before fanciful architectures with pointed arches, Gothic trefoils and quatrefoils and delicate columns. The design of the faces and the various poses are particularly individualized. Emotions such a grief and sympathy can be clearly recognized from the interplay between gestures and facial expressions.

A Bohemian Duchess as Patron

Judging by the accentuation of the Bohemian saints in the calendar of the Psalter and the feminine forms of the prayers it can be assumed that Anne of Bohemia (1204–1268) was the patron of the marvelous manuscript. She was the widow of Henry II, Duke of Silesia (1196/1204–1241) and founded the Krzeszów Abbey in 1242 with their son Boleslaw II.

Codicology
Alternative Titles
Der Breslauer Psalter
Size / Format
294 pages / 32.6 × 22.7 cm
Date
1255–1267
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textualis
Illustrations
28 full-page framed miniatures, 36 calendar medallions, 10 historiated initials on gold grounds, 168 framed smaler miniatures
Content
Psalter; Canticles, Te Deum, Quicumque vult and litany with collects
Artist / School
Der Breslauer Psalter

Breslau Psalter

Nativity Scene

Scenes surrounding Christ’s birth are depicted in a ring around the Virgin Mary, whose importance is emphasized by her size and is depicted resting and caressing her newborn. The hills around her are filled with shepherds, an exhausted Joseph resting his head, and the Christ Child receiving his first bath as angels watch all from above.

Referred to as Hand B, the master who created this splendid miniature combined traditional elements of Byzantine iconography with the contemporary German Zackenstil or “jagged style” and influences from the Gaibana Master. As such, we see a highly stylized fall of folds and depiction of the hills as well as standardized, flattened facial features, expressive gestures, and a burnished gold leaf background.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Breslau Psalter“

Der Breslauer Psalter Facsimile

Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Breslau Psalter – MS 36-1950 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
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Der Breslauer Psalter Facsimile

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2018
Limited Edition
680 copies
Commentary
1 volume by Nigel Morgan, Stella Panayotova and Paola Ricciardi
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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