The Luttrell Psalter is an outstanding medieval manuscript filled with interesting and exotic illustrations. Commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, it was written and illustrated, quite possibly at his manor at Irnham in Lincolnshire, during the middle years of the fourteenth century. This book is a complete, full-size facsimile of the manuscript ... all 624 pages of it. The manuscript is remarkable in several ways: it was written, not in a monastic scriptorium, but in a domestic environment; its illustrations show scenes of everyday life, such as will have been familiar to the people of Irnham; and they also show lots of fantastic creatures, part human, part animal. Illustrations from the Luttrell Psalter are everywhere, and well-known and well-used as illustrations by authors of books on all aspects of medieval life whether on dress, or warfare, or cooking, or farming, or whatever. But, nowhere - until now - illustrates all of them! As a psalter, the book is essentially a copy of the psalms preceded by a calendar, and followed with canticles, the litany, collects and the office of the dead. The text was written thoughout by a single expert scribe, and illuminated with line fillers and decorative capitals for each psalm and each verse; and the the borders were subsequently illustrated with the remarkable scenes of everyday life, and exotic and fabulous beasts. The psalter is a huge book, 35 by 24 cms, that's nearly fourteen inches by nine and a half, and it contains 312 folios, that means it has 624 pages, and all of them are illuminated ... well, that's not quite true because there are a few pages at the end with music on them, but that in itself is pretty decorative. And the whole volume - its background history, its illumination, its art and symbolism - is set in context and explained in a lucid Introduction by Michelle Brown. Here is a treasure of the greatest interest, a rich vein of gold by no means yet worked out ... it is safe to say that there are more of these illuminations here than you will have ever seen elsewhere, and that their variety is breathtaking.
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Michelle P. Brown is professor emerita of medieval manuscript studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London; visiting professor at University College London and Baylor University; a senior researcher at the University of Oslo; and former Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library.Review:
"General readers will find [the book] interesting and understandable as the manuscript is so engaging and attractive. This is the sort of book one might acquire at the museum shop after seeing the Psalter on display. It definitely answers any questions one might have about this beautiful book; and the illustrations allow one to see the imaginative illuminations again and again." (Jack Edson Catholic Library World)
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