Tegernsee Psalter


The most striking characteristics of this codex are three full-page, exceptionally large miniatures at the beginning of the manuscript, before and after the calendar, as well as a large-format illustration and 54 historiated initials. The calendar (on leaves 2 recto‒7 verso) and the psalms (leaves 9 verso‒167) are followed by canticles, hymns, an Office of the Virgin Mary, and an Office of the Dead. Numerous clues, such as the entries of the saints, particularly stressed by red ink in the calendar, the mention of the consecration of the church on the first Sunday before the feast of the 11,000 virgins (October 21), and the illumination suggest that the manuscript was produced on behalf of the Benedictine Abbey of Tegernsee. In the very first miniature on leaf 1 verso, depicting the crest of the monastery of Tegernsee, the brothers Adalbert and Otkarius are mentioned. Adalbert was the first abbot of Tegernsee, and both brothers were founders of the abbey. Maurus Leyrer, from 1512 to 1528 abbot of the monastery of Tegernsee and in this function the person who commissioned the Psalter, is seen kneeling before Saint Quirin, the patron saint of Tegernsee, in the full-page miniature on leaf 8 verso, with the imperial insignia and the facial features of Emperor Maximilian I (1459‒1519, emperor from 1493 until his death). Two other saints are shown in the same miniature, Saint Chrysogonus and Saint Castor, both standing by Quirin’s side. Both saints had long been venerated in Tegernsee; the monastery had preserved relics of both going back to 1054. The Psalter probably was written in 1514 (as can be inferred from leaves 176 recto and 247 recto) by Paul Wigg. The elaborate, high-quality illumination was produced by the year 1515 (leaf 8 verso) and was the work of Jörg Gutknecht from Augsburg (born circa 1482, died 1515 or 1516), at that time a novice in a monastery. Of the 54 historiated initials painted by Gutknecht, 37 illuminate the psalms, ten the canticles, and seven the remaining texts. The large initial B at the beginning of the first psalm shows the supposed author of the psalms, King David, playing the harp and kneeling before Christ (leaf 9 verso). As was common for many artists of that time, Jörg Gutknecht used images from imprints as a source of inspiration. The illuminator found his models especially in the small woodcut Passion by Albrecht Dürer (1471‒1528), printed in Nuremberg in 1511. The full-page picture on leaf 8 recto as well as a total of 27 of the initials can be traced back to this model. The depictions to be found on leaf 185 verso (Madonna with female saints) and leaf 210 verso (Woman of the Apocalypse, carried by angels) also are inspired by an engraving by Dürer. The manuscript came to Munich in 1803, in the course of the secularization of the Monastery of Tegernsee. It has been part of the collections of the Bavarian State Library ever since.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Tegernsee, Germany


Title in Original Language


Type of Item

Physical Description

247 folios, parchment : Illustrated


  • This description of the work was written by Beatrice Hernad.
  • BSB shelfmark: Clm 19201

Last updated: December 11, 2017