Ingeborg Psalter

Ingeborg Psalter

Northern France — ca. 1200

A wedding gift for the Danish princess: golden miniatures in the transition from Romanesque to Gothic for the unfortunate Queen of France

  1. A wedding present for Ingeborg, a Danish princess, who was to marry King Philip II 'Augustus' of France (1165–1223)

  2. 27 miniature pages glowing with gold, which mostly show two scenes in register from the most important events in the lives of Abraham and Moses

  3. The new style and design of the miniatures greatly influenced the art of illumination in the Gothic period

Ingeborg Psalter

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  1. Description
  2. Detail picture
  3. Single page
  4. Facsimile editions (1)
Description
Ingeborg Psalter

The manuscript at hand is part of a select group of manuscripts reflecting the artistic transition from Romanesque to Gothic aesthetics which occurred during the 12th century. The Ingeborg Psalter is one of the most significant and luxurious manuscripts of the early Gothic, its rich decoration reflects the fact that it was a gift for the wedding between Ingeborg, a Danish princess, and King Philip II 'Augustus' of France. Aside from its 150 Psalms, decorated with historiated initials, it also features a large number of unusually elaborate miniatures whose decisively new style and design clearly distinguished it from Romanesque predecessors and greatly influenced the art of illumination in the Gothic period.

Ingeborg Psalter

The final decades of the 12th century marked the absolute culmination of artistic creation in Paris and the surrounding provinces. One of the most significant and luxurious manuscripts of the early Gothic, the Ingeborg Psalter, was made during this period of transition and stylistic change before 1200. The book is named after its first owner Ingeborg, a Danish princess and the spouse of King Philip II August of France, who was expelled by her husband for unknown reasons shortly after their wedding.

A Bible Picture Book

The psalter begins with a richly embellished Beatus initial and the text of the following 150 Psalms is written in a luxury book script called “littera psalteralis”. From a historic point of view, this type of manuscript constitutes a precursor of the book of hours which flourished in the so-called “livre d’heures” of Flemish painting in the 14th and 15th centuries. The beginnings of both psalms and other texts are marked with initials, most of which contain ornamental decoration. Some of the psalms are ornate with large figural initials depicting scenes from the life of David.

51 Golden Miniatures

The real significance of the Ingeborg Psalter, however, lies in the large number of unusually elaborate miniatures whose decisively new style and design clearly distinguished it from Romanesque predecessors and greatly influenced the art of illumination in the Gothic period. 27 miniature pages, most of which show two scenes superimposed on one another, depict important episodes from the lives of Abraham and Moses. They are followed by the root of Jesse marking the transition between the Old and the New Testaments, and further by miniatures based on themes taken from the life of Christ, ranging from the Annunciation to the Assumption, from Pentecost to the Last Judgement and the Death and Coronation of the Virgin, down to scenes extracted from the legend of Theophilus. In this popular medieval epic, the sinner Theophilus devotes himself to the Devil and is saved by the Virgin Mary, thus introducing the Faustian motif for the very first time.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Ingeborg-Psalter
Size / Format
400 pages / 30.4 × 20.4 cm
Date
ca. 1200
Style
Language
Illustrations
27 miniature pages, most of which show two scenes superimposed on one another in register
Content
Calendar, Book of Psalms, and excerpts from other Biblical texts
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Ingeborg of Denmark, Queen of France (1174–1237)
King Louis IX of France (1214–70)
King Charles V of France (1338–80)
Count de Lignac
Duke of Aumale

Available facsimile editions:
Ingeborg Psalter – Ms. 9 olim 1695 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1985
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail picture

Ingeborg Psalter

Baptism of Jesus

This Romanesque miniature exhibits Byzantine influences, e.g. the gold background gives the scene a feeling of the divine, as though it was lifted out of time and space: “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’.” (Mark 1:9-11)

Der Ingeborg-Psalter
Single page

Ingeborg Psalter

Jesse Tree

This full-page miniature illustrating the family tree of Jesus Christ is a wonderful specimen of this manuscript, which bridges the Romanesque and Gothic styles. It precedes the Gospel of Matthew, which contains the genealogy of Christ. This refined and symmetrical image is dominated by a burnished gold background with a splendid palette of primary colors.

Jesus is naturally depicted at the top within a mandorla, beneath him the Virgin Mary is seen holding a book. The two crowned musicians are David, identifiable by his lyre, and Abraham. As usual, Jesse is depicted in repose at the root of the tree. The angels and doves are symbolic of the presence and inspiration the Holy Spirit bestowed on the Old Testament prophets in the margins.

Der Ingeborg-Psalter
Facsimile editions

#1 Der Ingeborg-Psalter

Ingeborg Psalter – Ms. 9 olim 1695 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)
Ingeborg Psalter – Ms. 9 olim 1695 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Leather, according to the character of the manuscript. All folios are cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (218 pages) by Florens Deuchler
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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