Memory of the World

The Netherlands - Utrecht Psalter

Few illuminated manuscripts have been studied so intensively as the Utrecht Psalter. It is unique, with its deceptively Late Roman character, its 166 illustrations of the 150 psalms and 16 canticles, its revolutionary dynamic style, and its visual messages about proper rulership. On several accounts, the production of the Utrecht Psalter was a defining moment in Carolingian culture.

It forms a crucial link between Late Roman art and its Carolingian 'translation'. Compared with earlier extant manuscripts, the rich palette of motifs displayed in the Utrecht Psalter is overwhelming. The illustrations reflect the violence and warfare of their own time, but are also meant for moral instruction, apparently for a (future) king. The Utrecht Psalter was the first visual ‘mirror of princes’.

Photos: © Utrecht University Library

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