Very early Psalter leaf, c. 1275. Dragon illumination


Verso:  18 lines of text written in Latin on vellum in black ink in an early gothic script. One three-line illuminated initial “Q” in raised and burnished gold outlined in black on a ground of blue and pink.  The initial extends the length of the text, terminating in a foot next to the last line.   Versal initials alternate in burnished gold and blue. 


Recto:   As Verso, with an illumination of a dragon in burnished gold, pink and blue.  The head of the dragon is in the left margin and its tail extends across the width of the text.


Origin:  Utrecht, Low Countries


Date:  c. 1275


Content:  The text on both Recto and Verso is a section of the very long Psalm 118 (KJV119).  The illuminated initial “Q” begins verse 97: Quomodo dilexi legem tuam Domine; tota die meditatio mea est.  Super inimicos meos prudentem me fecisti mandato tuo: quia in æternum mihi est. Super omnes docentes me intellexi: quia testimonia tua meditatio mea est. (O how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day.  Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation).


Condition:  Although the vellum of this leaf bears the trials of its almost 750 years of existence, the text and illuminations are in good condition.  The vellum has darkened considerably, there are some stains and dirt in the margins and some rubbing of the gold in the illuminations, but the text is clear with no ink loss.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Notes:  This small leaf is most likely from a psalter designed for lay, rather than monastic use.  The psalter was the principal book for private devotions before the emergence of the Book of Hours in the early part of the 14th century.


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 115x90 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx.  90x75 mm.


Item No:  MOT 057

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