(France [probably Paris]: late 13th century). the leaf, with later extensions at bottom and fore edge: 150 x 105 mm. (6 x 4 1/8"). Single column, 18 lines in a proto-gothic hand.

One blue and red penwork line filler, several one-line initials in either gold or blue with blue or red penwork, one two-line initial in gold, inhabited by a bird on a blue and pink ground, with an extension in gold running down the length of the remaining page, ONE EIGHT-LINE INHABITED INITIAL showing Christ in Majesty holding a book, recto with borders of thick gold bars on a blue and pink ground (terminating in a bird in one spot). A slender portion of the fore edge and a larger portion of the lower margin replaced with either later plain vellum or early decorated vellum, the latter very likely from the same manuscript (the unrepaired part of the leaf consequently measuring approximately 125 x 95 mm.), the lower marginal repair obscuring a half line of text, initial somewhat rubbed, a bit of general toning and rubbing to the vellum, but still an appealing leaf from this early period of illumination, with the gold still surprisingly bright and much of the detail in the large initial still present.

Although the present leaf is not without some condition issues, it is clear that it was once part of an especially lovely and expensive manuscript. Centers of professional manuscript production were well established in Paris by the mid-12th century, and the small size and design of this leaf suggest that it made for a person of some means. The initial, which takes up a full quarter of the page, is quite large for a book of this size; the liberal use of gold further signals that it was a work of some lavishness. This leaf almost certainly comes from either a Psalter or Psalter-Hours (the predecessors of Books of Hours) given its size and content. Such sumptuously decorated leaves from this important period of illumination are increasingly difficult to come by, and the present leaf presents an excellent opportunity to obtain a pleasing example at a reasonable price.

Keywords: Psalter