Two Miniatures from a Psalter

Unknownabout 1240

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

In the 1200s, psalters, which contain the psalms attributed to King David, were the most common books for private prayer. These two large miniatures in the Getty Museum's collection come from a picture cycle removed from a thirteenth-century Psalter made at Würzburg in Bavaria. Originally, the Museum's two images were part of a large sequence of at least twenty miniatures illustrating the story of Christ's life that preceded the psalms themselves. Serving as a reminder that Christ was descended from King David, these scenes focused the worshipper's attention on the heart of Christianity, the example of Christ himself. Stylistically, these two leaves belong to the Würzburg school of manuscript illumination, which flourished in the middle of the 1200s. While the miniatures' bright colors, angular contours, and monumental figures are reminiscent of Byzantine and Romanesque art, the dramatic, focused narratives, attention to human form, and finely observed details make these images characteristic of the early Gothic style.


  • Title: Two Miniatures from a Psalter
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about 1240
  • Location Created: Würzburg, Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 17.7 × 13.6 cm (6 15/16 × 5 3/8 in.)
  • Type: Detached leaf
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 84.ML.84
  • Culture: German
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 4
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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