Created by one of the greatest masters of English illumination: seven parchment fragments of a lost masterpiece by William de Brailes

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

Oxford (England) — Around 1240

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

Oxford (England) — Around 1240

  1. William de Brailes (active 1230-1260) is considered to be the unsurpassed master of 13th century English illumination

  2. Unfortunately, one of his most outstanding works only survives in a few fragments: a psalter from Oxford

  3. The miniature of the Last Judgement contains an extremely rare self-portrait of de Brailes holding a scroll

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

Alternative Titles:
  • Blätter aus einem Psalter von William de Brailes
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

William de Brailes is considered to be the unsurpassed master of 13th century English illumination. In his works, unbelievable inventive power and masterful artistry meet deep faith and precious materials. Unfortunately, one of his most outstanding works only exists today in a few fragments: a psalter from Oxford, originating ca. 1240. Only seven pages, stored today in Cambridge and New York, offer a glimpse into the glory of William de Brailes’ art. As an additional exceptional feature, the master immortalized himself in a minute portrait in one of the illustrations!

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

William de Brailes is considered to be the unsurpassed master of 13th century English illumination. In his works, unbelievable inventive power and masterful artistry meet deep faith and precious materials. Unfortunately, one of his most outstanding works only exists today in a few fragments: a psalter from Oxford, originating ca. 1240. Only seven pages, stored today in Cambridge and New York, offer a glimpse into the glory of William de Brailes’ art. As an additional exceptional feature, the master immortalized himself in a minute portrait in one of the illustrations!

The Work of a Master

Manuscript 330 of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, along with a leaf in the Morgan Library in New York represent an inestimable treasure in the history of illumination: seven pages from a long-lost psalter by the English miniaturist William de Brailes in the 13th century. This psalter probably originated ca. 1240 in Oxford, where the artistic genius was active. William de Brailes (active 1230-1260) is considered to be an exceptionally-talented painter and miniaturist. The seven pages of this compendium belong among the best of the surviving works of this grandiose artist!

A Stunning Visual Experience

The seven surviving pages of the psalter present the following depictions: the Last Judgement, the Fall of the Angels, a page with scenes from Christ’s childhood, scenes from the history of Cain and Abel, the Tree of Jesse, the enthroned Christ and King David, and finally the Wheel of Destiny. Luminous colors and glimmering gold characterize the first impression that the pages leave with the beholder. Extraordinarily creative, unusual and gorgeous compositions form the base of the exceptional visual experience: golden and colorful frames with round, half-circle, or mandorla-shaped picture fields, or one or two great primary miniatures with medallions in the corners of the frame give an inside view of the art of this exceptional painter. Pages full of rich imagery and exuberant luster!

William de Braile Immortalizes Himself

One detail makes these pages something very special: on one of the pages, the depiction of the Last Judgement, a signature of William de Brailes can be found! This is not merely a simple signature, but is actually a portrait: amidst the group of lost souls, a figure with a tonsure can be recognized, who is saved by the archangel Michael. In his hands he holds a scroll with the name William de Brailes. Such “self-portraits” were most unusual at this time, nonetheless, de Brailes is one of the first artists to have signed his work!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Blätter aus einem Psalter von William de Brailes
Size / Format
7 leaves / 22.1 x 14.4 cm
Date
Around 1240
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
7 leaves with full-page illuminations on golden background
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes“

Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes – MS 330 – Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
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Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes

Publisher
The Folio Society – London
Limited Edition
480 copies
Binding
Box
Commentary
1 volume by Nigel J. Morgan
More Information
Printed on real vellum
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