Bute Psalter

Object Details

Title:

Bute Psalter

Artist/Maker(s):

Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 - 1290)

Workshop of the Passion Master

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Northeastern (illuminated) France Paris (written) France (Place created)

Date:

illumination about 1270 - 1280; written about 135 - 1375

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment bound between wood boards covered with red velvet

Dimensions:

Leaf: 17 x 11.9 cm (6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.)

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Probably made for a noblewoman in the late 1200s, the Bute Psalter is a small prayer book containing all 150 psalms. A number of other additional texts illuminated by an anonymous Parisian painter were added in the mid-1300s. The manuscript's name derives from that of a previous owner, the Marquess of Bute.

A talented and important artist, known as the Bute Master for his work in this book, created the illuminations for the portion of the manuscript dating from the 1200s. He painted 190 historiated initials and numerous marginal drolleries. Instead of giving precedence to the eight major divisions of the psalms as was customary, he devoted a figural scene to every psalm. Furthermore, the illuminations display distinctive, original iconography that may reflect the patron's wishes.

Related Works
Exhibitions
The Psalms and Their Illustration (April 27 to July 3, 1993) (fols. 70v - 71)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 27 to July 3, 1993
Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Musicians and Instruments in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (January 25 to April 10, 1994) (fols. 61v - 62)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 25 to April 10, 1994
Devotion and Desire: Views of Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (July 25 to October 8, 1995) (fols. 61v - 62)
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Ten Centuries of French Illumination (April 23 to July 7, 1996) (fols. 32v - 33)
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Manuscript Illumination of the 13th Century (January 21 to April 6, 1997) (fols. 52v - 53)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 21 to April 6, 1997
Out-of-Bounds: Marginal Imagery in Illuminated Manuscripts (April 7, 1998 to July 5, 1998) (fols. 61v - 62)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 7 to July 5, 1998
The Psalms and Their Illustration (February 1 to April 23, 2000) (fols. 70v - 71)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 1 to April 23, 2000
Medieval Mastery: Illumination from Charlemagne to Charles the Bold (800-1475) (September 21 to December 8, 2002) (fols. 61v - 62)
  • Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens, (Leuven), September 21 to December 8, 2002
Transforming Tradition: Ancient Motifs in Medieval Manuscripts (September 23 to November 30, 2003) (fol. 116v - 117)
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The Glory of the Gothic Page (December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004) (fols. 52v - 53)
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French Manuscript Illumination in the Middle Ages (January 23 to April 15, 2007) (fol. 61v - 62)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2007
Music for the Masses: Illuminated Choir Books (August 14 to October 28, 2007) (fols. 61v - 62)
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The Decorated Letter (2007) (November 13, 2007 to January 27, 2008) (fols. 75v - 76)
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Temptation and Salvation: The Psalms of King David (June 9 to August 16, 2009) (fols. 32v - 33)
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Out of Bounds: Images in the Margins of Illuminated Manuscripts (September 1 to November 8, 2009) (fol. 71v - 72)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 1 to November 8, 2009
Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1200-1350 (December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012) (fols. 52v - 53; fols. 70v - 71)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012
Untold Stories: Collecting and Transforming Medieval Manuscripts (February 26 to May 12, 2013) (fols. 4v-5)
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Bibliography

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Peterson, Elizabeth Anne. "Accidents and Adaptations in Transmission Among Fully-Illustrated French Psalters in the Thirteenth Century." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 3 (1987), pp. 375n3, 376-80, 384.

Randall, Lilian M. C., et al. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 1, France, 875-1420 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1989), p. 89, under no. 38.

Peterson, Elizabeth Anne. "Iconography of the Historiated Psalm Initials in the Thirteenth-Century French Fully-Illustrated Psalter Group." Ph.D. diss. (University of Pittsburgh, 1991), pp. ix, 22- 137, 201-23, 297-679.

Stones, Alison, and Elizabeth Peterson. "The Bute Psalter." (Pittsburgh: n.p., 1992), pp. 1-7.

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Avril, François. L'Art au temps des rois maudits: Philippe le Bel et ses fils 1285-1328 (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1998), pp. 293, under no. 197, entry by Francois Avril; p. 298, under no. 201, entry by Avril.

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Peterson, Elizabeth Anne. "Scholastic Hermeneutics in Historiated Initials of 13th-century French Psalters." In The Illuminated Psalter: Studies in the Content, Purpose, and Placement of its Images. Frank O. Büttner, ed. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 349-55, figs. 336, 339, 329.

Burningham, Bruce R. Radical Theatricality: Jongleuresque Performance on the Early Spanish Stage (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2007), pp. 46-49, fig. 2.

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Fogg, Sam. "The Provenance of the Bute Psalter." In The Medieval Book: Glosses from Friends & Colleagues of Christopher De Hamel. James H. Marrow, Richard A. Linenthal, William Noel, eds. ('t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2010), pp. 316-23, fig. 1-2, 4a-4b.

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Spina, Frank. "The Psalter as Scripture: The Psalms Are Not Individual Units, but a Beautiful Whole." Response 36 no. 3 (Autumn 2013), pp. 42-43., ill.

Leson, Richard A. "The Pathways of Salvation: Spatiality and Devotion in the Bute Psalter." Gesta 53, passim.