An illuminated leaf on vellum from an English Psalter. [Southern England, first half 15th century]



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Large, 7-line initial 'D' in a very fine leafy design in blue, pink and orange with white tracery on burnished gold grounds, supporting bar borders in gold and colours, with clumps and whirls of coloured leaves at intervals and at each corner; 1-line initials in blue or burnished gold surrounded with penwork in blue or red, line-fillers in gold and blue.

Size of leaf: 272 x 182mm. 22 lines, written space: 187 x 117mm. Written in dark brown ink in a large compressed gothic liturgical hand.

A superb leaf, from what would have been a luxury Psalter produced for a wealthy English patron. The large, burnished gold initial and the border with leafy designs of blue and pink are typical of English manuscript illumination in this period. The knotted clusters of rounded leaves with shaded white circles present in the borders are design features that are also found in a manuscript made in Oxford in 1429 (now Cambridge University Library, MS ff.3.27).  The leaf was originally f. 23 in the parent manuscript, opening Psalm 52 (‘Dixit Insipiens’).

Provenance: From a grand Psalter produced in southern England, possibly Oxford, in the first half of the 15th century. The parent manuscript, already lacking several leaves, was sold at Sotheby’s, 5 December 1989, lot 86 and again 22 June 1993, lot 88 (this leaf illustrated in the catalogue). Christie’s, 29 June 1994, lot 37.

Bibliography: K.L. Scott, Dated and Datable English Manuscript Borders c.1395-1499 (2002), pp.52-53.

Stock Code: 246316

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