Lot 13
  • 13

Five historiated initials on a leaf from a Psalter-Hours, in Latin [Flanders or Rhineland?, c.1250-75]

2,000 - 3,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vellum
single leaf, 176x129mm, vellum, 2 columns on recto, 1 on verso, 20 lines, 150x100mm, 5 historiated initials depicting a queen, a layman, a priest, and two monks for the first five collects that follow the litany, some flaking of pigment and gold

Catalogue Note

The parent volume was made for a nun, as indicated by a collect mentioning ‘our abbess’. The place of origin has never been settled, previous attributions include England, Flanders, Eastern France, Lower Lorraine, and the Rhineland. Although the highly varied line-fillers of some leaves are usually associated with English manuscripts, the style of the illuminated initials finds no close parallels in England; Flanders or the Rhineland seems a more likely origin. It is exceptionally rare for a Psalter to have an historiated initial to every psalm and prayer, and in this case they are exceptionally large: the almost invariable format is to have one-line initials for each verse, two-line initials for each psalm, and larger initials only for the eight major divisions at Pss.1, 26, 38, etc. This was therefore a commission of remarkable lavishness, made for a woman of great wealth, perhaps even royalty. The first initial on the present leaf shows a woman wearing a crown and a vair-lined robe, holding a book.

Leaves with identifiable texts include:


Psalms 12 & 13 (f.54). Private collection, Germany (Andachtsbücher no.8a).

Psalm 21:16-32 (text). Sotheby’s, 5 Dec. 2006, lot 52(a).

Psalms 23 & 24 (f.65). Private collection, Germany (Andachtsbücher no.8b).

Psalm 25. Maggs Catalogue 1340, no.4; private collection, Japan.

Psalm 26. Folio Fine Art, Cat.67 no.254.

Psalm 31 (f.72). Private collection, Germany (Andachtsbücher no.8c).

Psalm 35. Sotheby’s, 4 Dec. 2007, lot 19

Psalm 51 (f.97). Paris art market 2014.

Psalm 52. Formerly Sam Fogg, c.1992.

Psalm 58. Sotheby’s, 25 April 1983, lot 69a.

Psalm 77:11–28 (text) (f.124). Paris art market 2014.

Psalm 79. Sotheby's, 2 Dec. 1986, lot 8, to Brisigotti.

Psalm 80. The Rendells, Cat.146, no.86.

Psalm 93. Sotheby’s, 5 Dec. 2012, lot 5 (£2,800)

Psalms 94 & 95. Sotheby's, 5 Dec. 1989, lot 18b; Sotheby's, 7 Dec. 1992, lot 6a, to Fogg.

Psalm 96. (f.14[2?]). John Windle, 2015.

Psalm 101. Cleveland Museum of Art, Jean Miles Blackburn collection.

Psalm 102:3–22 (text). Private collection, Japan.

Psalm 107. Maggs Bulletin 5 (1967), no.4.

Psalms 123, 124 & 125. Sotheby's, 5 Dec. 1989, lot 18b; 7 Dec. 1992, lot 6b, to Fogg.

Psalm 142 (f.183) Sotheby’s, 25 April 1983, lot 69b; Lubin Catalogue, no.14; Ferrini Cat.1, no.36.

Psalm 143 (f.184) Sotheby’s, 25 April 1983, lot 69c; Lubin Catalogue, no.15.

Canticles 1 & 2 (f.190) Sotheby’s, 25 April 1983, lot 69d; 6 Dec. 1983, lot 16; Ferrini Cat.1, no.37; Cleveland Museum of Art, Jean Miles Blackburn collection.

Canticle 4: Exodus 15:5-19 (text) (f.193). Sotheby's, 2 Dec. 2003, lot 13.

Canticle 5 (f.194). Paris art market 2014.

Litany. Beginning (fol.203; preceded by the end of the Athanasian Creed). Reiss & Sohn, 28 April 2015, lot 643.

Collects 1–5 (preceded by end of Litany). The present leaf.

Collects 6–9 (continuing from the present leaf). Formerly Sam Fogg, c.1992.

Hours of the Virgin

Lauds. Beginning and Psalm 92. Sotheby's, 17 Dec. 1991, lot 14a.

Lauds. Psalm 148 (following the ‘Benedicite’). Sotheby's, 17 Dec. 1991, lot 14b; private collection, London.

Lauds (/Prime?). Prayers following the ‘Benedictus’ and antiphon ‘O admirabile’. Private collection, London.

Terce or Sext. Psalm 124 (between Ps.123 and prayers). AGT Cat.19, no.17a.

Vespers. Psalms 112 and 121 (preceded by end of Ps.109). AGT Cat.19, no.17b.

Vespers. Psalms 126 and 147 (preceded by end of 121). AGT Catalogues 19, no.17c; 21, no.22, and 22 no.19.

Compline. Beginning (preceded by end of Vespers).  Sotheby's, 17 Dec. 1991, lot 14c.

Compline? (includes Nunc dimittis). Maggs Bulletin 6, no.19 (ill.); Sotheby’s, 21 June 1988, lot 8.

Compline. End. Sotheby's, 17 Dec. 1991, lot 14d.

Office of the Dead

‘Prayers to be said over the newly dead’. AGT Catalogues 19, no.17d; 21, no.22a; and 22 no.19a; Sotheby's, 6 Dec. 1983, lot 16, to Quaritch.

First nocturn(?). Psalm 145 and prayers. The Rendells, Cat.146, no.86 [perhaps same as Maggs, Bulletin 6, no.19]

Second nocturn(?). Psalm 22 (‘preceded by various prayers’). AGT Cat.19, no.17e.

AGT = Catalogues of Alan Thomas

Andachtsbücher = Andachtsbücher des Mittelalters aus Privatbesitz: Katalog zur Ausstellung im Schnütgen-Museum, ed. by Joachim M. Plotzek, exh.cat., Cologne, 1987.