According to its colophon, the psalter presented here was completed by the scribe Balthasar Kramer in the days of Abbot Johannes of Gilt Lingen (abbot from 1482 to 1496) for the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Ulrich and Saint Afra in Augsburg on April 11, 1495. The codex had been commissioned for the daily psalms to be sung in the church choir. The initials and fleuronée ornamentation are today ascribed to Conrad Wagner, a conventual of Saint Ulrich and Afra. In addition, the Augsburg book painter Georg Beck (1450-1512) was involved in the production, in charge, together with his son, of the illuminations. Beck’s son is identified as the painter Leonhard Beck (circa 1480‒1542), who has been repeatedly verified as a miniaturist. Consistent with its intended use in the monastic choral prayer of the Benedictine monks, antiphons or invitatoria, responsories, ferial hymns, and verses are, in their biblical order, interposed in the psalms, thus constituting a so-called psalterium feriatum. The Psalter is preceded by benedictions, absolutions, and a calendar. The text follows the version of the Septuagint, the Greek Bible; only the psalm titles, i.e., the biblical “headlines,” quote mostly the translation of the Psalter iuxta Hebraeos, being a direct translation by Saint Jerome from Hebrew. The manuscript contains, for the purpose of the monastic division of the psalter as well as for highlighted canticles and sequences of hymns, a total of 35 historiated initials with solid colored backgrounds and images from the life of David, who was then regarded as the author of the psalms and to whom many of the headlines relate. The iconographic peculiarities of this manuscript include, in the context of Psalm 52, the drinking fools, who are bowling and playing dice, as well as the depiction of the Good Shepherd, the latter in connection with Psalm 79. The image of the monk and Death, found within the Office of the Dead on leaf 177 recto, is remarkable. The Psalter even uses images from incunabula, including the woodblock print of all saints, taken from Günther Zainer’s Heiligenleben (Life of the saints) and the works of art by Martin Schongauer or Israhel van Meckenem (Judith with the Head of Holofernes, among other works). In the course of the secularization of the monasteries in Bavaria the manuscript was transferred, in January 1807, from Saint Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg to the court and state library in Munich, now the Bavarian State Library.
Title in Original Language
Psalmi, hymni ... cum pulchris picturis
Type of Item
192 folios, parchment : illustrated
- This description of the work was written by Karl-Georg Pfändtner.
- BSB shelfmark: Clm 4301
Last updated: December 11, 2017