One of the most influential works in art history and on the UNESCO World Heritage list today: delicate pen drawings from the anonymous "Da Vinci of the 9th century"

Utrecht Psalter

Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers near Rheims (France) — Between 820 and 840

Utrecht Psalter

Utrecht Psalter

Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers near Rheims (France) — Between 820 and 840

  1. This 9th century masterpiece is one of the most influential works in all of art history

  2. The text of the Psalms is continuously illustrated with magnificent pen drawings

  3. Art historians rank the anonymous master on par with da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh

Der Utrecht-Psalter (Luxury Edition)

Utrecht Psalter

Start of Psalm 81

The 81st Psalm is often referred to as “An Appeal for Israel’s Repentance” but is also centered on the theme of celebration. As such, the Israelites are shown blowing horns on the hillside and worshipping in the temple as angels hover overhead. “Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute. Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.” (Ps. 81:1-3)

Utrecht Psalter

Alternative Titles:
  • Utrecht-Psalter
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Psalters were especially popular during the Carolingian era, and were one of the most commonly illuminated books for private devotion before the rise in popularity of the book of hours. The Utrecht Psalter is not only one of the most exquisite ever Psalters ever made, it is considered to be a high point of medieval illumination that has had a lasting impact on the development of European art. In fact, the Utrecht Psalter is so accomplished in its execution that its anonymous illuminator is counted among the greatest artists in the history of the West. The Psalms are recorded here in their entirety, all 150 are contained in the manuscript, which was made near Rheims but has been in England since it was brought there ca. 1000.

The Utrecht Psalter

The psalter as a basic work of monastic choral song steadily gained in importance from the 6th century onward. The Utrecht Psalter is one of the finest manuscripts of this period and probably the most unusual psalter of the Middle Ages. It was written out and painted between 820 and 840 in the Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers near Rheims, on the initiative of Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims and a foster brother of Emperor Louis the Pious. This sumptuous illuminated work of the Carolingian period is the earliest surviving example of an illustrated Psalter in Western book production.

166 Lively and Exciting Miniatures

All 150 Psalms are illustrated with magnificent pen drawings covering the whole width of a page and densely populated with tiny figures hurriedly sketched with a few strokes. These vigorously painted figures are frequently imbedded in faintly sketched landscapes and display a vibrant liveliness. In accordance with the beauty of the text, they are executed in unprecedented perfection. The creative power of the artist has led many renowned art historians to place the master of these pages on equal footing with the great artists of the western world, like Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt or Vincent van Gogh. In addition to the extraordinary expressive power of the drawings, one must be impressed with the artist’s continuous effort to follow the text as closely as possible and marvel at the sheer wealth of symbolism in his illustrations.

A Century-Old Model

The Utrecht Psalter has influenced the evolution of European art throughout the ages, not only in the field of illumination but also in other areas of Carolingian art. It was, above all, the expressive nature and at the same time refined character of the drawings which enriched European art before the first millennium with fresh and spirited elements. Around the year 1000, the manuscript was brought to England. After the dissolution of English monasteries, the codex passed into private hands. In the 16th century, the Psalter entered the possession of Sir Robert Cotton who had the book bound in the present day full binding of red leather.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Utrecht-Psalter
Size / Format
222 pages / 33.0 x 25.6 cm
Date
Between 820 and 840
Language
Illustrations
166 fantastic miniatures from the Carolinian royal court school
Previous Owners
Der Utrecht-Psalter (Luxury Edition)

Utrecht Psalter

Psalm 2

This masterful grisaille miniature directly illustrates the text in which it is embedded. The only color is in the Insular-style initials with gold leaf, red, and green, as well as the small red initials in the text. This is a prophetic verse, portraying Christ standing on Mt. Zion and identified by a hand to the right giving the sign of benediction: “The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day I have begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7).

The hosts assembled around Mt. Zion are Gentiles who have raged and devised vain things, inducing God’s rage, depicted above them with his arm extended outward. Christ appears to break a pot, referencing Ps. 2:9: “Thou shat rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Utrecht Psalter“

Der Utrecht-Psalter (Luxury Edition)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Utrecht Psalter – Hs. 32 – Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit (Utrecht, Netherlands)
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Der Utrecht-Psalter (Luxury Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1982
Limited Edition
980
Binding
All leather binding is a faithful replica of the original binding which was made for Sir Robert Cotton in 1600.
Commentary
1 volume (116 pages) by K. van der Horst and J. Rathofer
Language: German

The commentary volume includes 116 pages and introduces the reader to the world of the Carolingian Renaissance while also providing a comprehensive explanation of the manuscript’s lavish decoration.

K. van der Horst, Utrecht, revised by J. Rathofer, Cologne. 116 pp., 33 black-and-white illustrations.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Der Utrecht-Psalter (Faux-Leather Edition)
Imageof

Der Utrecht-Psalter (Faux-Leather Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1982
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Instead of the real leather (luxury edition) reproduction of the binding with faux-leather.
Commentary
1 volume (116 pages) by K. van der Horst and J. Rathofer
Language: German
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
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