31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts · Medieval Art and Architecture

The Luttrell Psalter – Day Ten of Medieval Manuscripts

An image of King David in an historiated initial. Luttrell Psalter (British Library Add. MS 42130, f.13 detail). Image from the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped the notice of my readers, intelligent folks that you all are, that I’ve been a little behind on 31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts for a few days now. Unfortunately, sometimes the need for actual sleep has to take priority over other things, particularly when one needs to wake up very early, skate, work, and then dance. However, with the two posts I’ve made today, I will officially be caught up!

Marginal illustrations in the Luttrell Psalter (British Library Add. MS. 42130, f.70v). Photo from the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

The Luttrell Psalter (British Library Add. MS 42130) has come up in my research for several other posts, so I’ve decided to feature it on its own. A psalter is a book of Psalms, and the Luttrell Psalter is a particularly-beautiful example of such a book. According to the British Library, the institution that owns the manuscript, the Luttrell Psalter is notable for its use of color and gold, its representations of King David, its profusion of “lively and often humorous images” of rural English life in the Middle Ages, and its wide usage of detailed animal imagery in the margins. (British Library) The Psalter was created for an English lord named Sir Geoffrey Luttrell around 1320 or 1340.

The rather impressive Sir Geoffrey Luttrell from the Luttrell Psalter (British Library Add. MS. 42130, f.202v detail). Photo from the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
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