The Breslau Psalter

Full-page prefatory miniatures

Texts and Images

The prefatory cycle contains eight full-page miniatures depicting events in Christ’s early life, starting with the Annunciation. Found in deluxe Psalters, such cycles underscored the understanding of the Psalms as Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament. Presented as pairs on double openings, the miniatures are painted on one side of the leaves only, leaving the other side of the costly parchment blank. This is one of the numerous indications that no expense was spared in the production of this manuscript.

Hand B employed traditional Byzantine iconography, showing the Nativity in a landscape setting and including the shepherds as well as the new-born Christ Child about to receive his first bath. He also emulated the Gaibana Master’s broccoli-like trees. However, the emphatically linear, graphic style is characteristic of contemporary German painting and illumination.