This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235.
A complex style for a complex period
The production of the book reflects the complex period in which it was created. The iconography of many of the images has German sources, the calligraphy is in the style of Italian “rotondo,” and the illuminations show Byzantine influences that are reflected in the architecture, the drapery of the clothes, and the dark faces and deeply set eyes of the figures. This splendid manuscript, made for the queen of the Holy Roman Empire, was composed to reflect the gold and bright enamels of the art of the mosaic and reveals Italian taste tempered by elements of Byzantine classicism.
Of German ancestry, Frederick II was one of the most important monarchs of the Middle Ages. A patron of the arts and sciences who spoke six languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek, and Arabic), Frederick ruled over much of present-day Italy, Germany, and parts of France.
19th century copy of the original medieval one.