De Lisle Psalter

De Lisle Psalter

Westminster (United Kingdom) — ca. 1310–1320

38 magnificently preserved pages: a splendidly decorated masterpiece of the English Gothic style with paintings like altarpieces

  1. 38 illuminated pages represent only a fragment of a marvelous Psalter commissioned by Robert de Lisle (1288–1344)

  2. It boasts elements of English and French Gothic architecture and evokes English altar and panel painting

  3. The English masterpiece has decorative, patterned backgrounds indicating an Islamic aesthetic influence

De Lisle Psalter

Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
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, the 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 bright colors and ever valuable gold.

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, the 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 bright colors and ever valuable gold.

An Artfully Crafted Illuminated Manuscript

The De Lisle Psalter is a masterpiece of the English Gothic style. With the highly artful arrangement of the miniatures, the manuscript appears to be almost kingly in appearance. Well known elements from English and French Gothic architecture were implemented within the manuscript. This evokes the high medieval style of English altar and panel painting. The 38 surviving pages of the original Psalter are continuously animated. At the beginning lies a 12-part calendar, embroidered with fine leaflets and precious initials. After that follows the large-scale 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 of Christ, wherein biblical stories are established.

Great English Art

In these miniature pages, one can witness the full breathe of the artists’ skill. 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 created 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 first glance due to the particularly complicated forms of the frames, which are richly varied. A multitude of different ornaments aid the background pictorial scenes. The finest and most charming ornament patterns are divided in a grid-line design. They specifically point 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 I’s wife, Eleonore of Castile. Alongside the ornamentation, one is impressed by the tenderness of the figures, which are wonderfully modeled. Bright colors and rich, gold chasing dictate the entire artistic layout of the manuscript.

High-Caliber 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 collector of art, was the last owner in the family, for he chose to pass 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 also connected with the Howard Psalter. The De Lisle Psalter is presented there with the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Bedford Hours, and other highly valuable manuscripts, serving as one of the principal highlights and visitor magnets of the entire exhibit.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Il Salterio di Robert de Lisle
Psalter des Robert de Lisle
The Psalter of Robert de Lisle
Size / Format
38 pages / 35.0 × 23.0 cm
Date
ca. 1310–1320
Style
Language
Illustrations
33 miniatures illustrating biblical events including some full-pages, 12 full-page illustrated theological diagrams, one schematic representation without figural decoration, and a calendar
Artist / School
Previous Owners
William Howard, Lord of Naworth (1563–1640)

Available facsimile editions:
De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)

De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)

De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Scripta Maneant – Reggio Emilia
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)
Detail Picture

De Lisle Psalter

Betrayal of Judas

Presented in barbed quatrefoils with elegant backgrounds consisting of gold leaf and intricate patterns, these two scenes show the infamous betrayal by Judas Iscariot. The Last Supper is presented on the left, with Judas shown kneeling before Christ in front of the table and receiving food from him while clutching his bag with thirty pieces of silver. On the right we see the famous Judas Kiss, the pre-arranged symbol by which he would identify Jesus to the mob in the Garden of Gethsemane.

De-Lisle Psalter
Single Page

De Lisle Psalter

Crucifixion and the Tree of Life

This masterful miniature is dense with biblical symbolism and references. In Genesis, the Tree of Life is the source of eternal life in the Garden of Eden, which then reappears in the Book of Revelation. Mankind loses access to it once driven from the garden, but the sacrifice of Christ, embodied in the Crucifixion, restores the faithful to the tree.

Christ is crucified on a slender green cross, from which grow twelve gilded branches containing texts relating to Christ's humanity, passion and glorification. 18 prophets with scrolls, seated before alternating backgrounds of red, blue, and gold, line the page’s margins, save for the top where a pelican feeds her young. John’s prophecy from the Apocalypse is written in red at the bottom.

De-Lisle Psalter
Facsimile Editions

#1 De-Lisle Psalter

Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2008

Publisher: Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)
Binding: The binding of Add.MS 18972 (Peter Comestor, Historia Scholastica, 1451) of the British Library served as a model for the blind-stamped full leather binding with metal bosses. All leaves are trimmed to the edges according to the original and have gilt edges.
Commentary: 1 volume by Lucy Freeman Sandler
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) 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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Salterio de Lisle

Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2008
De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2008
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)
Binding: The binding of Add.MS 18972 (Peter Comestor, Historia Scholastica, 1451) of the British Library served as a model for the blind-stamped full leather binding with metal bosses. All leaves are trimmed to the edges according to the original and have gilt edges.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) 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.

#3 Il Salterio di Robert de Lisle

Scripta Maneant – Reggio Emilia
De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
De Lisle Psalter – Arundel 83 II – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Scripta Maneant – Reggio Emilia
Limited Edition: 800 copies (co-edition)
Binding: The binding of Add.MS 18972 (Peter Comestor, Historia Scholastica, 1451) of the British Library served as a model for the blind-stamped full leather binding with metal bosses. The miniatures have been reproduced with real gold leaf. All leaves are trimmed to the edges according to the original and have gilt edges.
Commentary: 1 volume by Lucy Freeman Sandler
Languages: Italian, English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) 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.
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