Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. theol. lat. fol. 358

Werden Psalter Facsimile Edition

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The Werden Psalter is a spectacular Romanesque manuscript that showcases a broad range of influences. Created in the imperial abbey of St. Ludger’s in Werden, Germany, in the fifth decade of the eleventh century, it features three full-page illuminations paired with elaborate incipit pages. These are presented in gilded acanthus frames with purple-stained parchment and gold and silver lettering. A decorated calendar and ornamented initials throughout give the manuscript a timeless luxury.

In many ways, the manuscript appears older than it is. The text of the Psalms is written in long lines of an elegantly scribed Caroline minuscule with Rustic capitals glowing in gold and silver on a purple ground, a tradition drawn from Carolingian Renaissance. In contrast, the three surviving full-page figural illuminations and their corresponding incipit pages have greater affinity to Romanesque style and technique. This combination of old and new results in a splendidly refined work that captures the shifting artistic influences in eleventh-century German art.

A Deluxe Early Romanesque Psalter

A striking feature of the Werden Psalter is its use of gold and silver lettering on a purple background. This stunning technique dates back to the earliest surviving manuscripts of Late Antiquity and was renewed during the Carolingian Renaissance.

Here, the effect is limited to incipit pages, single bands to denote the initial line of each Psalm, and as a stylistic effect on individual capitals where the gold or silver letter sits within a small field shaped like the enclosed letter. Additional use of gold in the acanthus frames of the full-page illuminations and in the enlarged interlaced foliage of the incipit initials adds additional luxury.

Merging of Influences From Across Europe

The text of the Werden Psalter is the Roman, not Gallican, version indicating the source for the exemplar to be Anglo-Saxon England. This version makes four major divisions in the Psalms (1, 51, 101, and 109), and full-page illuminations and incipit pages precede each, those marking Psalm 51, likely a Crucifixion, now missing.

The iconography for these images comes from England, by good comparison to contemporary works like the Winchcombe Psalter (Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff. 1.23), however, the artistic style is very much more local, recalling Ottonian and Carolingian illumination.

Created at the Imperial Abbey of St. Ludger’s in Werden

The reason for the creation of this deluxe psalter is unknown. Some believe it may have been intended as a papal gift. Others argue it was commissioned for Abbess Sophie of the nearby Essen nunnery.

Regardless, it remained in Werden until the sixteenth century when it was briefly owned by the Glaser family. In 1683 it was returned to the monastery. After the foundation’s dissolution in 1803, it entered into the Königliche Paulinische Bibliothek and in 1823 the KGL Bibliothek. It is now housed in Berlin.

Binding description

The elaborately tooled cover dates to the years after 1560. The rich brown leather darkened where the vegetal and figural designs were impressed in concentric frames. The virtues of FortitudoPrudenciaJusticia and, instead of Temperancia, the legendary Roman woman Lucrecia are featured. It is inscribed with the initials “S.R.”.

We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Werden Psalter":

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Manuscript book description compiled by Amy R. Miller.

#1 Der Werdener Psalter (Standard Edition)

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1979

  • Commentary (German) by Knaus, Hermann
  • Limited Edition: 765 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Werden Psalter: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Facsimile volume in a cloth bound slip case.

Binding

Leather, true copy of the original binding.

Used from

€ 980

approx US$ 1,105


New from

€ 1,980

approx US$ 2,233


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#2 Der Werdener Psalter (Deluxe Edition)

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1979

  • Commentary (German) by Knaus, Hermann
  • Limited Edition: 85 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Werden Psalter: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

6 full-page miniatures and ornaments, 190 larger mostly golden with real gold leaf (hand-made) and silver initial letters. Facsimile volume in a cloth bound slip case.

Binding

Leather, true copy of the original binding.

Used and new from

€ 980

approx US$ 1,105


Our Price

More Buying Choices

Request Info