Lot 5
  • 5

A Lion, inhabited initial on a leaf from a large Psalter, in Latin [northern England, c.1260-70]

3,000 - 5,000 GBP
bidding is closed


single leaf, 233x164mm, vellum, with an inhabited initial 'L' at the beginning of Ps.120, 21 lines, 168x111mm, containing Psalms 118:167-120:4, with two large flourished gold initials at the division of Ps.118 at verse 169, and at Ps.119, pencil foliation ‘92’, slight cropping of penwork flourishing at the upper edge, some flaking of gold


Catalogue Note

This is a leaf from an imperfect volume of 103 leaves that was offered by Ferrini and Les Enluminures, Important Illuminated Manuscripts, 2000, no.14, at $1,000,000, which had four very large initials, and 41 painted initials of which 15 contained an animal such as the present lion. The manuscript was cut up by July 2002, when three of the four major initials entered a private collection.

It is clear that this was a special commission and an unusually lavishly illuminated manuscript: it is standard for Psalters to have a 1-line initial to each verse and a 2-line initial to each Psalm: here, not only does every psalm initial (and alternate verse initials and line-fillers) employ burnished gold, but the Psalm initials are 3-line. Previously attributed to France, c.1200–10, the writing ‘below top line’ and the ruling in ink rather than plummet indicates the second half of the century, and the closest parallels for the figure style, line-fillers, and penwork flourishing is found in Psalters from northern England such as the Evesham, Oscott, York, and Rutland Psalters (BL, Add. 44874, 50000, 54179, and 62925, respectively), all dating from c.1250 to c.1270.