Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Claricia Psalter, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.26, fol.64r

This Psalter was made for, and most likely by, a group of Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of Saints Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, Germany. Although the Psalter itself, along with its calendar, date to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, a number of texts and prayers were added in the mid thirteenth century. Most striking about the manuscript are its illuminations, which include a prefatory cycle, full-page miniatures and historiated initials. While all are Romanesque in style, they vary greatly in quality and technique, and three or four different artists seem to have been at work. The Claricia Psalter takes its name from one of the initials, which depicts a young girl in secular dress swinging from the initial "Q," who has "Claricia" written around her head. It has been suggested that the image represents a novice artist who signed her work, but there are many other theories, and none are certain.

"Claricia" swinging on foliate initial "Q" at the opening of Psalm 51.