Created by English monks for their own use: gorgeous miniatures with fine Gothic figures in unprecedented vividness

Ramsey Psalter

Ramsey Abbey (England) — Last quarter of the 13th century

Ramsey Psalter

Ramsey Psalter

Ramsey Abbey (England) — Last quarter of the 13th century

  1. Produced by the monks of Ramsey Abbey for their own use, this codex is generously adorned with gold leaf

  2. The 12 miniatures are the most famous feature with 40 episodes from the Old and New Testaments

  3. The figures of the fine Gothic specimen lend the narrative a liveliness that is unparalleled in book production

Ramsey Psalter

Alternative Titles:
  • Ramsey-Psalter
Ramsey Psalter – Cod. 58/1
MS. M.302 – Stift St. Paul Bibliothek (Lavanttal (Carinthia), Austria)
 / Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Ramsey Psalter is an illuminated manuscript produced by the monks at Ramsey Abbey at the end of the 13th century for their own use. The manuscript benefits from the generous application of gold leaf and is distinguished by its rich illustration, especially a 12-page miniature cycle. This exquisite decoration makes the Ramsey Psalter one of the finest surviving examples of Gothic book illumination, but like many medieval manuscripts, it experienced a turbulent history that included some folios being separated from the rest of the codex. Today, some of the manuscript is housed in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. The larger portion remained in the library of the Benedictine Abbey of Sankt Paul im Lavanttal (Carinthia, Austria).

Ramsey Psalter

The Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey founded in 969 by Ailwyn was one of the great centers of scholarship in the English-speaking world for many centuries. In this abbey, an elaborate codex known as the Ramsey Psalter was produced for the monastic community’s own use at the end of the 13th century. In the course of its turbulent history, the Ramsey Psalter experienced the same destiny as many other medieval manuscripts: five folios – nearly a complete illustrated cycle preceding the Psalms – were separated from the binding at some stage and finally found their way to the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. The larger portion remained in the library of the Benedictine Abbey of Sankt Paul im Lavanttal (Carinthia, Austria).

The Pinnacle of Book Illumination

12 deluxe figural initials complete with perfectly inserted individual scenes; stylized floral marginal illustrations populated with tiny creatures; countless line endings, enlivened predominantly with grotesques, are all elements bearing testimony to the sheer inexhaustible imagination of the master who unfortunately remains anonymous. More than any other section, the illustrated cycle preceding the psalms deserves special mention. Its 12 miniature pages are filled with 40 episodes taken from the Old and the New Testaments to form a homogenous illustrated ensemble. From an artistic view, both these miniatures and the decorative apparatus of the Ramsey Psalter as a whole are of outstanding quality. The zestful movements of the figures, the articulation of their gestures and facial expressions, as well as the strong interaction between the individual protagonists lends the narrative a liveliness that is unparalleled in book production.

A Golden Manuscript

In addition, the book is lavishly decorated with exuberant gold: the gold leaf grounds are frequently enlivened with linear chasing and scattered patterns and are not limited to the miniatures alone, as is the case in other manuscripts, but are also found in the initials, in marginal decorations, and even in the shortest line fillings. This exquisite decoration makes the Ramsey Psalterone of the finest surviving examples of Gothic book illumination.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Ramsey-Psalter
Size / Format
346 pages / 26.5 x 17.0 cm
Date
Last quarter of the 13th century
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
12 deluxe figural initials, 12 miniature pages are filled with 40 episodes taken from the Old and the New Testaments, countless line endings, enlivened predominantly with grotesques

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

Der Ramsey-Psalter
Ramsey Psalter – Cod. 58/1
MS. M.302 – Stift St. Paul Bibliothek (Lavanttal (Carinthia), Austria)
 / Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Imageof

Der Ramsey-Psalter

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1996
Limited Edition
280 copies
Binding
Finely tooled genuine leather
Commentary
1 volume by Lucy Freeman Sandler
Language: German

Lucy Freeman Sandler, New York. Detailed scholarly commentary on contents, structure, history of origin and the significance of the codex with respect to history of art and liturgy.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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