Book of Psalms


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Treasures of Kalocsa

• Book of Psalms
MS 382, c. 1438



Treasures of Kalocsa

A CD series published by the Cathedral Library of Kalocsa and Studiolum

Vol. 1: Book of Psalms, MS 382
  (Bohemia, c. 1438)

• History of the Cathedral Library
   of Kalocsa


Composed by:
• Zita Grócz
   (Kalocsa Cathedral Library)
• Tamás Sajó, Antonio Bernat Vistarini
English version: John T. Cull
   (College of the Holy Cross)
German version: Sonja Lucas
   (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz)

Edition: 2006 – ISBN 963-87196-1-3

Place your order:

Price: € 35


Book of Psalms

Psalterium cum canticis, MS 382
Prague or Krumlov c. 1438
90 fols. 256 ×175 mm, parchment

This small psaltery is the most outstanding illuminated codex of the Cathedral Library. The valuable Latin manuscript contains the psalms of David together with the thanksgiving canticles. Written in a Gothic hand, and prepared for liturgical use, it is decorated with several ornamental initials, some painted and gilded, and others painted in blue and red.

The decoration of psaleries was determined by the traditional division of the psalms in the Middle Ages. This psaltery of Kalocsa, however, does not follow any of the known decoration patterns. The initials of this codex, with the exception of the one representing King David singing psalms, are not the usual illustrations of psalms in these works at all. Psalm 26, for example, is illustrated with the image of the Salvator mundi (Saviour of the world), Psalm 68 with the Man of Sorrows, Psalm 97 with the half-figure of Mary with her Child, while Psalm 109 is illustrated with the image of the cloth of St. Veronica, which is the portrait of Christ.

The fine delineation and delicate gestures of the figures, as well as the winding gold leaf border ornamentation can be related to the works of Bohemian codex painting after the 1430s. The paintings emphasize the motherhood of Mary, the human and divine nature of Christ, and his sacrifice.

We also find an unusual number of eucharistic themes and cult images propagated by the Catholic church in the first half of the 15th century. These themes may have been incorporated into the iconographic program of the codex as a response to Hussite teachings, probably at the time of the decline of the Hussites and the consolidation of Catholic tendencies, in one of the ideological and artistic centers, Prague or Krumlov.

The unknown patron of this psaltery can be seen in the cleric kneeling near the Man of Sorrow. The dating of the codex is based on its stylistic similarity and iconographic connection with the Psaltery painted in 1438 for Hanuš z Kolovrat, the last Provost of Prague’s Saint Vit Cathedral, one of the most outstanding collectors of the period.


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