This magnificent illuminated manuscript is an extremely rare psalter (book of psalms, this one combined with hours) produced in London during the reign of Edward I.

Made up of 160 folios, the book includes a calendar featuring a sequence of London saints, thereby identifying its place of origin.

The psalter is listed in the 1692 library catalogue of Sir Roger Mostyn. It remained in the family until the 1970s, after which it passed into another private collection. Earlier identifiable owners include Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1366.

Relatively few luxury books made in London survive from the medieval period. The patron for the Mostyn Psalter-Hours is not known, but the image of a bishop which appears in the illuminated initial letter for Psalm 101 suggests it might have been a bishop.

The book represents a crucial piece of evidence for the history of English art. Almost no English painting from the 13th or 14th centuries exists outside manuscripts, and the illumination in the Mostyn Psalter-Hours is of the highest quality. Included in the calendar are 20 miniatures of the labours of the months, together with the signs of the Zodiac. Eight of the original 10 large historiated letters survive in the psalter.

The British Library holds the largest collection of medieval English psalters, including the psalter made for Prince Alphonso, son of Edward I. The Mostyn Psalter-Hours has now been fully digitised and is available to view on the library’s digitised manuscripts website.

This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.

Provenance

As inscribed on the manuscript, Johannes Sheregoldus, early 16th century; H. Milner, 15 March 1598; recorded in catalogue of items owned by Sir Roger Mostyn (1624 -1690) after his death; Sir Thomas Mostyn (1704-1758); thence by descent; unsold Sotheby&rsq


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