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Walters Ms. W.44, Psalter for Cistercian female supplicant

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Psalter for Cistercian female supplicant

Text title


This biblical Psalter was created in French Flanders for a lady with Cistercian connections in the third quarter of the thirteenth century. Fourteenth-century additions for the use of a woman suggest that it continued to be used by female supplicants for some time after its creation. A prefatory cycle of ten full-page miniatures was also added in the fourteenth century, which complemented the original, and more traditional, series of ten historiated initials found within the Psalter.


Third quarter of the 13th century CE


Northeast France (Flanders at the time)






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Medium-weight, cream-colored parchment; well prepared


Foliation: v+207+v

Modern pencil foliation lower right corners, rectos


Formula: Quire 1: 12 (fols. 1-12); Quire 2: 1, is a singleton (fols. 13); Quire 3: 4 (fols. 14-17); Quire 4: 10 (fols. 18-27); Quires 5-13: 8 (fols. 28-99); Quire 14: 6 (fols. 100-105); Quire 15-19: 8 (fols. 106-145); Quire 20: 6 (fols. 146-151); Quire 21-27: 8 (fols. 152-207)

Catchwords: Some lost during cropping; remains of catchwords visible beginning on fol. 35v

Signatures: Occasionally found on rectos of first folio in quire



10.0 cm wide by 15.4 cm high

Written surface

7.0 cm wide by 10.2 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 17
  3. Layout does not apply to calendar (8.2 x 10.3 cm, five columns); calendar ruled in brown crayon, Psalter text ruled in lead

fols. 1r - 207v:
  1. Title: Psalter
  2. Hand note: Written in textura semi-quadrata
  3. Decoration note: Ten full-page miniatures, added in fourteenth century; ten historiated initials original to Psalter (3-8 lines); decorated initials in gold against blue and rose grounds with white foliate and animal details in calendar and introducing minor psalms (2-3 lines); psalm versals in alternating blue and gold with blue and red pen trails (1 line); geometric and foliate line fillers throughout; rubrics in red; text in black ink
fols. 1v - 13r:
  1. Title: Calendar
  2. Rubric: Januarius habet dies .xxxi. Luna .xxx.
  3. Contents: Calendar one third full, graded in black, blue, and red; Egyptian days indicated; contents suggest Cistercian use; notable saints include Peter, archbishop of Tarentaise (May 8), Remigius (Oct. 1), Dionysius (Oct. 9), Malachy (Nov. 5), and Anianus (Nov. 17)
fols. 15r - 17r:
  1. Title: Added prayer and Gospel sequence
  2. Incipit: O intemerata et in eternum
  3. Contents: Text added in fourteenth century for use by a female supplicant; fols. 15r-16v: prayer to the Virgin; fols. 16v-17r: Gospel sequence from John 1.1-14
  4. Hand note: Written in textura by later, fourteenth-century hand
fols. 18v - 27r:
  1. Title: Prefatory image cycle
  2. Decoration note: Ten full-page images in facing pairs with blank backs, added in the fourteenth century, on fols.18v, 19r, 20v, 21r, 22v, 23r, 24v, 25r, 26v, and 27r
fols. 28r - 189v:
  1. Title: Biblical Psalter
  2. Incipit: Beatus vir
  3. Contents: Ten-partite biblical Psalter, with divisions at Psalms 1, 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, and 109
  4. Decoration note: Historiated initials fols. 28r, 51v, 67v, 82r, 82v, 97r, 116r, 133r, 135v, and 152r
fols. 189v - 205r:
  1. Title: Weekly Canticles
  2. Incipit: Confitebor tibi
fols. 205r - 207v:
  1. Title: Litany and collects
  2. Contents: Fols. 205r-207r: litany; with six martyrs including Dionysius and Maurice; five confessors: Silvester, Martin, Augustine, Nicolas, and Benedict; eleven virgins including Pecina and Benedicta; fols. 207r-v: two collects
fols. 207r - 207v:
  1. Title: Added hymn to the Virgin
  2. Contents: Hymn to the Virgin, added in the fifteenth century; incomplete, as last quire was lost after 1902, when Jacques Rosenthal recorded it ended with "...Salue salus humani generis Salue virgo dignior ceteris."


fol. 18v:

  1. W.44, fol. 18v
  2. Title: Annunciation
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 19r:

  1. W.44, fol. 19r
  2. Title: Nativity
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 20v:

  1. W.44, fol. 20v
  2. Title: Adoration of the Magi
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 21r:

  1. W.44, fol. 21r
  2. Title: Presentation in the Temple
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 22v:

  1. W.44, fol. 22v
  2. Title: Flagellation
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 23r:

  1. W.44, fol. 23r
  2. Title: Crucifixion
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 24v:

  1. W.44, fol. 24v
  2. Title: Three Marys at the Tomb
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 25r:

  1. W.44, fol. 25r
  2. Title: Harrowing of Hell
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 26v:

  1. W.44, fol. 26v
  2. Title: Ascension
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 27r:

  1. W.44, fol. 27r
  2. Title: Pentecost
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 28r:

  1. W.44, fol. 28r
  2. Title: Initial "B" with David playing harp
  3. Form: Historiated initial "B," 9 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 1

fol. 51v:

  1. W.44, fol. 51v
  2. Title: Initial "D" with David anointed by Samuel
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 26

fol. 67v:

  1. W.44, fol. 67v
  2. Title: Initial "D" with David pointing to mouth before the face of God
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 38

fol. 82r:

  1. W.44, fol. 82r
  2. Title: Initial "D" with Ahimelech being beheaded by Doeg
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 5 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 51

fol. 82v:

  1. W.44, fol. 82v
  2. Title: Initial "D" with the fool holding a club and biting a loaf
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 8 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 52

fol. 97r:

  1. W.44, fol. 97r
  2. Title: Initial "S" with David in water below Christ
  3. Form: Historiated initial "S," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 68

fol. 116r:

  1. W.44, fol. 116r
  2. Title: Initial "E" with David playing bells
  3. Form: Historiated initial "E," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 80

fol. 133r:

  1. W.44, fol. 133r
  2. Title: Initial "C" with clerics singing
  3. Form: Historiated initial "C," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 97

fol. 135v:

  1. W.44, fol. 135v
  2. Title: Initial "D" with kneeling female supplicant
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 3 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 101

fol. 152r:

  1. W.44, fol. 152r
  2. Title: Initial "D" with God the Father and Christ
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 6 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 109


The binding is not original.

Rebound in the early twentieth century in burnt sienna velvet, and housed at that time in a telescopic case, by Léon Gruel, Paris; edges gilt; earlier binding described in Rosenthal catalog as having been brown calf, with monogram "P P L" within a series of four "S's" struck through with a vertical line


Made for a lady with Cistercian connections in the third quarter of the thirteenth century; evidence includes initial with woman kneeling in prayer fol. 136v, and Cistercian saints in calendar

Second female owner suggested by fourteenth-century addition of prayers to Virgin for female supplicant, fols. 15r-17r

Jacques Rosenthal collection, Munich; 1901 dealer catalog 27, no. 74

Léon Gruel, Paris, early twentieth century; Gruel and Engelmann bookplate on front flyleaf i,v, inscribed "No. 63"

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel between 1902 and 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, S., and W.J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935; p. 770, cat. no. 80.

Miner, Dorothy. Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Exhibition Catalogue. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1949; cat. no. 53.

Diringer, David. The Illuminated Book: Its History and Production. London: Faber and Faber, 1958; p. 386.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 1, pt. 1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989; pp. 75-77, cat. no. 32.

Bousmanne, Bernard. Item à Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur: Willem Vrelant, un aspect de l'enluminure dans les Pays-Bas méridionaux sous le mécénat des ducs de Bourgogne Philippe le Bon et Charles le Téméraire. Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1997; p. 367 (n. 202).

Noel, William, and Daniel Weiss. The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library's Medieval Picture Bible. London: Third Millennium Publishing; Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2002, p. 163, cat. no. 12.

Bennett, Adelaide. "The Transformation of the Gothic Psalter." In The Illuminated Psalter. Edited by F.O. Bütner, 211-222. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004; p. 219 (n. 43).


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Herbert, Lynley

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Sedovic, Katherine; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.