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.

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Detail of the kneeling king’s face and halo under magnification (7.5x). His flesh tone is built upon a light blue layer painted with woad, while his hair and beard contain ultramarine blue. The gold leaf of the halo, laid over a ground layer containing verdigris, has suffered significant losses due to the degradation and loss of adhesion of the green pigment.

The monumental figures and elaborately tooled gold halos are characteristic of Hand A’s work. The composition betrays his collaboration with – or knowledge of works by – the Master of Giovanni da Gaibana, as it is closely related to the Gaibana Master’s painting of the same subject in the Paduan Epistolary.