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Psalter (Ricc. 323)

Around 1235/37 Frederick II commissioned this wonderful psalter for his third wife, Isabel of England. Usually ascribed to copyists from Acre, it was most likely produced by an artist who added a typically Italian sense of color and shape to a Byzantine background.

Against a German iconographic backdrop, the figure of Christ stands out in these miniatures. Thanks to its flexible, reoccurring features it almost serves as a signaling device to the reader. The opening miniature is at once particularly complex and meaningful. By summing up the whole Christmas liturgy (which alludes to Christ’s death and resurrection), it brings together both the Old and the New Testament.

A note in the manuscript reads: “Property of Sister Margaret Da Scorno, nun in the convent of St. Silvester.” Originally from Pisa, the Da Scorno family had many contacts with southern Italy, where they probably came in possession of this manuscript.

This digital facsimile has been realized by Vallecchi Casa Editrice Firenze.


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