Lot 16
  • 16

The Entry into Jerusalem, with the Washing of the Feet and Last Supper, a full-page miniature from a Psalter, in Latin [Alsace (Strasbourg), c.1220-40]

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • illuminated manuscript on vellum
single leaf, 230x140mm, vellum, with an extra 9mm folded over at the bottom edge, and a piece of paper 15mm wide added at the right side, the miniature 169x128mm, the ruling on the reverse 150x113mm, the green pigment has suffered some degradation, and the surface of the gold, though still highly reflective, is somewhat pocked, otherwise in very fine condition especially the faces, hands, and feet of the figures, bound in modern covers


Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing where appropriate.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note


(1) The present miniature and three of its sister leaves are first recorded on the Paris art market in 1928 (Swarzenski, 1936, p.121); Jacques Rosenthal owned at least three of the five known leaves in 1930-31 (see below).

(2) The Czeczowitzka Collection, Vienna: sold anonymously by Ball & Graupe, Berlin, Eine Wiener Sammlung, Zweiter Teil, 12 May 1930, lot 1, with plate.

(3) A.S. Drey, Munich: their forced liquidation sale at Graupe, Berlin, Aus dem Besitz der Firma A.S. Drey, München (Räumungsverkauf), 17-18 June 1936, lot 82, with plate.

(4) Kurt Arnhold (1887–1951), of Dresden; sold by his heirs in our rooms, 23 June 1992, lot 9, with full-page colour plate; bought by the present owners through Quaritch.

This lot is sold pursuant to a settlement agreement between the current owners and the heirs of A.S. Drey.

sister leaves

Swarzenski described and reproduced the present leaf with three others: they clearly all come from the same series, matching in style, dimensions, and the writing on their reverse sides. Their provenances and present whereabouts are as follows:

1. The Annunciation, Visitation, Annunciation to the Shepherds, and Nativity: bought from Jacques Rosenthal on 11 December 1930 by Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951); now in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (inv.no. BF1049).

2. The Adoration of the Magi, and Baptism: exhibited by Jacques Rosenthal in Meisterwerke älterer Kunst aus dem deutschen Kunsthandel, 1930, no.91 Abb.82, and offered again in Mittelalterliche Miniaturen: Ausgestellt im Juni 1931, no.4 pl.II; acquired in 1942 by the current owners, the Liberna Foundation. 

3. The Entry into Jerusalem, and Last Supper: the present leaf.

4. Christ Carrying the Cross, Crucifixion: Robert Forrer (1866-1947), of Strasbourg; present whereabouts unknown.

One more previously-unknown leaf has come to light within the past year; it was bought by Mr Barnes together with no.1 above from Rosenthal on 11 December 1930, and is now in Philadelphia (Barnes Foundation, inv.no. BF1051). In the upper register is God’s Creation of Eve from Adam’s side and God Giving Adam and Eve to One Another; and in the lower register The Fall and The Expulsion from Paradise.

parent volume

Swarzenski suggested that the miniature comes from the so-called Sigmaringen Psalter, and this has been supported by subsequent study, especially by the fact that the text on the back of the present leaf and its sister leaves appear to be written by the same scribe as additions to the Psalter (de Hamel 1982). It was owned in the 13th century by a cleric, as indicated by the liturgical texts added on the backs of the miniatures. The Psalter has a 16th- or 17th-century binding with heraldic arms, identified as those of Wolff and Auer von Auberg, both of Regensburg (Rietstap, II, p.1111, and I, p.82, respectively; de Hamel 1982, 2012). It was certainly in the Court Library of the Princes of Hohenzollern at Sigmaringen by 1867; see ‘Beschreibung einiger Handschriften der fürstlich hohenzollern’schen Bibliothek in Sigmaringen’, Anzeiger für Kunde der deutschen Vorzeit, N.14, 1867, at col.236; Fürstlich Hohenzollernsches Museum zu Sigmaringen: Verzeichnis der Handschriften, 1872, at p.17. Neither description mentions full-page miniatures, and the later one records the volume having 133 leaves (as it does today) so the miniatures must already have been separate. The Psalter was auctioned by Kundig, Geneva, Très précieux manuscrits enluminés et incunables provenant … d'une collection princière …, 23 June 1948, lot 3, bought by the Liberna Foundation, the present owners.


The Gospel scenes of the miniatures, very curiously, read from bottom to top. In the present case we start in the lower register with Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem, welcomed by people who lay down garments and palm branches in his path, hence the modern name, Palm Sunday. Moving to the upper register, we see two different events simultaneously: at the far left Jesus washes St Peter's feet (John 13:9), while the rest of the scene shows the Last Supper: "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved" (John 9:23), and, knowing that he will be betrayed, Jesus gives the sop to Judas. As he does so, a small black bird flies into his mouth ("and after the morsel, Satan entered into him", John 13:27).

The Sigmaringen Psalter and its dispersed miniatures belong to a group of de luxe Psalters made probably c.1220-40. Swarzenski attributed them tentatively to Strasbourg, which has been supported by subsequent study (de Hamel, 1982, 2012). The modelling of flesh and faces is comparable, for example, to Karlsruhe, St.Peter Perg.122 and Lichtenthal 25 (see colour ills. in Mittelalterliche Andachtsbücher, exh.cat., 1992, nos.5 and 11).


H. Swarzenski, Die lateinischen illuminierten Handschriften des XIII. Jahrhunderts in den Làˆndern an Rhein, Main und Donau, 1936, pp.49, 121 no.39 (miniatures), 121-22 no.39a (Psalter), figs.496-99 (miniatures), 500-04 (Psalter).

C.R.F. de Hamel, Liberna Foundation: Catalogue of Miniatures and Manuscripts, privately printed, 1982, pp.2-6 (sister miniature) and pp.7, 22-27 (Psalter).

C. de Hamel in M. Kordhanke (ed), Von der Schönheit der Präzision: Faszination, Buchkunst und Grafik mit der Liberna Collection, exh.cat., 2012, nos.015 and 016 (sister miniature and Psalter, with colour plates).