Their style has often been connected to north-eastern France, and in particular Metz, c.1320, but in fact they are Parisian and a couple of decades later. The fluid pen-flourishing including three distinctive dots arranged as a triangle and little flowers are distinctively the work of the French capital (cf. P. Stirnemann in Revue de l’Art, no.90, 1990, pp.58-73), and these miniatures can be firmly identified as the work of the famous husband and wife artist-team, Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, who lived and worked on the rue Neuve Notre-Dame in the second quarter of the fourteenth century (R.H. and M.A. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, 2000, I, pp.235-60, and II, pp.202-06). Both were libraires, Jeanne taking this title independently after Richard’s death c.1353. They were prolific manuscript producers for the court and members of the Parisian elite, even leaving self-portraits of themselves at work at matching desks, grinding pigments, writing leaves while others dry on a rack, and painting illuminations, in the lower borders of a copy of the Roman de la Rose, now Paris, BnF., fr.25526 (illustrated in Rouse and Rouse, I, figs.22-23). Jeanne is of particular importance as a witness to the crucial but almost invisible roles played by women in the Parisian book trade, and one feature identified by the Rouses as consistently indicating her hand, that of the “straight or convex Roman nose” (I, p.240) can be found several times on the present leaf.
As the surviving miniatures appear on rectos and versos, and are blank on one side, the original manuscript must have been arranged in pairs forming double-openings. The original numbering system indicates that there were three separate sequences of pictures, perhaps as a tripartite prefatory cycle for an elaborate Psalter, marking the division of the Psalms at 1, 51, and 101. Prominent forerunners of this arrangement are two English thirteenth-century Psalters, namely the Munich Psalter (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm. 835; Morgan, Early Gothic Manuscripts, 1982, I, pp.68-72) and the Huth Psalter (London, British Library, Add. 38116; N. Morgan, ibid, 1988, pp.167-9). The present miniature with scenes numbered XXI-XIV, would have immediately followed after the (unnumbered) leaf in the Bodleian, as the verso of the next double-page opening.
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