This rare and truly exquisitely illuminated psalter was made in Bruges for an English patron in the early 1480s.

The manuscript is a deluxe psalter, including the Book of Psalms and a selection of other devotional material. The book has 183 folios and a 15th-century binding of red velvet over wooden boards.

Inside, the text is written in Latin in a Gothic script and presented in two columns. The eight large, finely painted initials and 11 scatter borders are important and previously unknown examples of the work of the Master of Edward IV, an influential artist named for his contributions to manuscripts made for the Plantagenet king.

A full-border frontispiece at the beginning of the book has the added arms of Thomas Lucas (1431-95) who was a prominent Lancastrian supporter and privy counsellor to Henry VII. It is this ownership that gives the book its name. In Psalm 109 Lucas’ added arms appear again, together with those of his wife, Elizabeth Kemys whom he married in 1486 or 1489, thus supporting a date of the early 1480s for the initial decoration.

The Master of Edward IV is known for his distinctive painted figures and landscapes, clearly identifiable in the Lucas Psalter. Among the miniatures here is a particularly fine landscape for Psalm 68, showing a supplicant figure immersed in water.

Another notable aspect of the book is its customisation for an English patron. This is evident from the inclusion of many English and British saints in the calendar. Red roses have later been added to the decoration in several places, most likely to emphasise Lucas’ Lancastrian and Tudor affiliations.

The Lucas Psalter now joins the British Library’s superb collection of illuminated manuscripts, which includes the largest holding of paintings by the Master of Edward IV anywhere in the UK.

Provenance

The Lucas Psalter was written and illuminated in Bruges for the English market: the illumination is by the Master of Edward IV, an artist active in Bruges from the 1470s to 1500.The coat of arms on the opening folio of the Psalter shows Lucas and Morieux




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