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Tempera, and gold on vellum
Framed: 48.3 x 63.5 cm (19 x 25 in.); Overall: 30.7 x 45.2 cm (12 1/16 x 17 13/16 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 55.9 cm (16 x 22 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1933.448
This pair of bifolia consists of two sheets of vellum each folded in half to create four leaves. In the bound volume, they would have originally been inserted one inside the other to form part of a large psalter or book of the psalms. The miniatures decorating each leaf are subdivided into four small panels and sequentially illustrate the life of Christ. This particular format, along with aspects of style, help us locate the psalter’s place of production to North Germany and the Diocese of Hildesheim. In northern Europe, after 1050, a tradition emerged of illustrating psalters with miniature cycles of the life of David (the author of the Psalms) and the life of Christ. This juxtaposition implied the connection of lineage, since Christ was the descendant of the House of David. It is possible that in the parent volume these miniatures were accompanied by a “David” cycle.
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