Great Canterbury Psalter

Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)

Canterbury (United Kingdom) and Catalonia (Spain) — Ca. 1200 and ca. 1350

Started in Canterbury, completed 150 years later in Spain: a large and magnificently illuminated Psalter in the transition from Romanesque to Gothic to the new Italian style

  1. The Psalter was begun in Canterbury, England ca. 1200 and finished in Spanish Catalonia ca. 1350

  2. It marks both the transition from Romanesque to Gothic and the new Italian style of the 14th century

  3. Duke Jean de Valois, Princess Margarete of Austria, and Queen Mary of Hungary are among its owners

Great Canterbury Psalter

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Great Canterbury Psalter

The Great Canterbury Psalter consists of two different parts. The first part of the manuscript was created ca. 1200 in Canterbury, England, the second part ca. 1350 in Catalonia, Spain. The different styles make the manuscript a unique work of art in the world. It contains 140 high quality and interesting miniatures with precious colors and gold worked in different ways. These miniatures represent high-quality examples of the Romanesque and Gothic styles and the highly coveted manuscript has passed through the hands of various aristocrats of the first rank.

Great Canterbury Psalter

In the French National Library there is a psalter which is exceptional in every way, in which two works from different epochs are combined in one grandiose codex. The Great Canterbury Psalter, which contains the three Latin versions of the Psalms attributed to St. Jerome, was partly produced in England and partly in Spain. The exciting work of art contains over 140 miniatures by first class book masters, who depict the prevailing conceptual world of their time in pictures. Numerous decorative initials and gold embellishments additionally decorate the text.

Various Stylistic Directions

The fascinating Great Canterbury Psalter is a work that consists of two parts, which were produced at completely different times. The first part arose in English Canterbury ca. 1200. The second part was produced around 150 years later in Catalonia. This temporal difference between both parts is clearly discernable in the illustrations of the work. The English originates from a time in which Late Romanesque painting was being gradually supplanted by the painting of the world of Gothic. The full-page miniatures and charming initials show influences from the masterworks of Late Gothic book art. The Catalonian part of the manuscript is oriented on 14th century Italian painting. Both parts of the books are of excellent quality and reflect new artistic ideas alongside classical traditions.

The Adventurous History of the Psalter

Medieval psalters were concerned with collections of the Psalms, which are attributed to King David. They usually served purposes of private study. The special Great Canterbury Psalter was nevertheless a work, for which its owners enjoyed astonishment and admiration. The owners came from the highest ranks of each epoch and are to be sought among the most influential rulers. Soon after its production, the incomplete manuscript went from England to Spain and came into the possession of Duke Jean de Valois. It was later purchased by Princess Margarete of Austria. This she left to her niece, Queen Mary of Hungary. In 1809, it received a new binding in Paris in the reign of Napoleon I. The manuscript is still found in Paris today.

Noteworthy Book Art

The miniatures of the psalter are shaped in a special manner after each Psalm. The pictures are always divided into several scenes and show a variety of high quality colors. Most are laid against a carmine red background and are adorned with filigreed and polished gold leaf. The second part of the manuscript was demonstrably illustrated by the studio of Ferrer and Arnau Bassas, two of the great Spanish book painters of the Middle Ages. The stylistic influences from various epochs and lands make the illuminated manuscript a unique work of art worldwide.


Alternative Titles
Salterio Glosado
Salterio Anglo-Catalán
Anglo-Katalanischer Psalter
Der Große Canterbury Psalter
Salterio Glossato
Psautier Anglo-Catalan
Saltério Glosado
Anglo Catalan Psalter
Size / Format
356 pages / 48.0 × 32.2 cm
Ca. 1200 and ca. 1350
English Vernacular minuscule
More than 140 fascinating miniatures including 8 full pages embellished with gold, 28 historiated initials, and 190 ornamental letters upon gold ground with plants motifs
The second part was completed at the behest of King Peter IV of Aragon (1319–87) "The Ceremonious"
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Jean, Duke of Berry (1340–1416)
Charles Croy
Margaret of Austria (1480–1530)
Mary of Hungary (1505–58)
Archduke Albert I of Belgium (1875–1934)

Available facsimile editions:
Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Detail Picture

Great Canterbury Psalter

The Last Supper

In the center miniature we see the Last Supper with the Twelve Apostles assembled neatly around the table. Christ is pictured holding the Eucharist and giving the sign of benediction, he is flanked by a depiction of Communion on the right and the Ark of the Covenant on the left being carried by the Israelites. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’.” (Luke 22:19)

Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Single Page

Great Canterbury Psalter

Scenes from Genesis

At the beginning of the manuscript, the events from the beginning of Genesis are portrayed in a full-page miniature broken up into 12 scenes. They are neatly arranged within a frame of red, blue, and gold leaf. The first six depict the stages of Creation, from God holding a compass and scales in the void to Adam surrounded by all the animals he must now name.

The second half of these scenes depict events of the Garden of Eden and the fall of man, resulting in their expulsion. A now-clothed Adam and Eve are now next in the world outside Paradise with Adam toiling while Eve is afflicted by the challenges of child rearing. Their infant sons, Cain and Abel, are depicted as grown men in the last scene, making their offerings to God.

Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Salterio Glosado

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Great Canterbury Psalter – M. Moleiro Editor – Lat. 8846 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 2004
Limited Edition: 987 copies
Binding: Brown leather with gold décor. Red leather slipcase.
Commentary: 1 volume (296 pages) by Nigel Morgan, Rosa Alcoy and Klaus Reinhardt
Language: Spanish
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!
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