The J. Paul Getty Museum

Two Miniatures from a Psalter

Object Details


Two Miniatures from a Psalter






Würzburg, Germany (Place Created)


about 1240


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 4 (84.ML.84)


Leaf: 17.7 × 13.6 cm (6 15/16 × 5 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

In the 1200s, psalters, which contain the psalms attributed to King David, were the most common books for private prayer. These two large miniatures in the Getty Museum's collection come from a picture cycle removed from a thirteenth-century Psalter made at Würzburg in Bavaria. Originally, the Museum's two images were part of a large sequence of at least twenty miniatures illustrating the story of Christ's life that preceded the psalms themselves. Serving as a reminder that Christ was descended from King David, these scenes focused the worshipper's attention on the heart of Christianity, the example of Christ himself. Stylistically, these two leaves belong to the Würzburg school of manuscript illumination, which flourished in the middle of the 1200s. While the miniatures' bright colors, angular contours, and monumental figures are reminiscent of Byzantine and Romanesque art, the dramatic, focused narratives, attention to human form, and finely observed details make these images characteristic of the early Gothic style.


Elizabeth Kögl, German,
Source: Faint inscription dated 1586 on verso, legible under ultraviolet light reads: Die Erdierdig müetter Elisabet/ köglin hat dissen psalter an der...Anno 1586 n : o : +

before 1837/1839

Private Collection (Munich, Germany), sold to James Dennistoun, 1837/1839.

1837/1839 - 1855

James Dennistoun, Scottish, 1803 - 1855, by liberal provision in his trust-deed, Mr. Dennistoun provided for the whole of his manuscript collections being placed in the hands of his friend, Mark Napier, Esq., 1855.
Source: Dennistoun, James Wallis, James Irving, and Irving, Joseph. Some Account of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun and Colgrain. Glasgow: For Private Circulation, 1906.

1855 - before 1870

Mark Napier, Scottish, 1798 - 1879, by inheritance to the grandaughter of James Dennistoun, Isabella (Dennistoun) Henson, wife of Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, after 1870.
Source: Dennistoun, James Wallis, James Irving, and Irving, Joseph. Some Account of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun and Colgrain. Glasgow: For Private Circulation, 1906.

after 1870 - 1930

Isabelle Caroline Henson, Scottish, 1870 - 1949, sold to Lord Kenneth McKenzie Clark, 1930.

1930 - 1984

Lord Kenneth McKenzie Clark, British, 1903 - 1983 [sold, Lord Clark of Saltwood sale, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1984, lot 77, to H.P. Kraus]


Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Provenance Remarks: Prior to 1855 James Dennistoun traveled to Italy and assembled a series of illuminated manuscripts into an album, some of which are also apart of the Getty Collection. Though it is not known the extent of the size of the album, it is well documented that the majority of the manuscripts of his collection became part of the parcels handed to his friend, Mark Napier as part of the liberal provision in his trust-deed. As Napier was empowered to go over, select, and arrange the different objects of his collection, the manuscripts were then properly bound, indexed, and catalogued before being presented in a series of eleven volumes to the Faculty of Advocates on behalf of Dennistoun. As of 2020 the provenance reflects Napier retaining ownership of the manuscript until after 1870.


Dennistoun, James Wallis, James Irving, and Irving, Joseph. Some Account of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun and Colgrain. Glasgow: For Private Circulation, 1906, pp. 45-46.

A Catalogue of an Extensive Library, Containing nearly 3000 Volumes of Standard Works in every Department of Literature [..] (Newcastle: J. Blackwell and Company, 1848), p. 46.

Swarzenski, Hanns. "Recent Literature, Chiefly Periodical, on Medieval Minor Arts: Pre-Carolingian, Carolingian, and Ottonian Periods." Art Bulletin 24, no. 3 (1942), pp. 297-98.

Brigstocke, Hugh. “James Dennistoun’s Second European Tour, 1836-1839.” The Connoisseur 184 (December 1973), p. 248, fig. 11, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Paintings and Works of Art From the Collections of the Late Lord Clark of Saltwood. July 3, 1984, lot 77, ill.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), pp. 201-2, no. 123, figs. 123a-123b.

Engelhart, Helmut. Die Würzburger Buchmalerei im hohen Mittelalter. Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Bistums und Hochstifts Würzburg 34. 2 vols (Würzburg: Kommissionsverlag Ferdinand Schöningh Würzburg, 1987), vol. I pp. 98-151, 346-351, vol. II pl. 72.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Illuminated Manuscripts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 36-37, entry by Thomas Kren.

Orsini, Jacqueline. Mary: Images of the Holy Mother (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000), pl. 9.

Kren, Thomas. Illuminated Manuscripts of Germany and Central Europe in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009), pp. 22-23, 67-69, ill.

Grosse Bibliotheken der Welt: Schätze des J. Paul Getty Museums, Los Angeles (Gütersloh and Munich: Faksimile Verlag, 2009), p. 14.

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 13, 14-15, fig. 2.