Comparing Palter 'And Eadwine Psalters'

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A Psalter is a manuscript that contains the book of Psalms and other devotional material. Psalters were used in monastic offices in which the entire text was recited every week. Until the emergence of the late medieval book of hours, Psalters were the books most widely owned by wealthy laypersons and were commonly used for learning to read. The earliest surviving examples of medieval Psalters exist only in the Utrecht Psalter and its copies, the Harley and Eadwine Psalters. For the purpose of this essay, the focus will be comparing the Utrecht with the latter. When comparing the two Psalters, the Utrecht and Eadwine Psalters both follow the illustrative conventions of a literal interpretation of the Psalms. However, Eadwine uses a more precise…show more content…
Some scholars, like Dimitri Tselos, argue that the Eadwine Psalter “is the least original or creative” copy of the Utrecht codex and that the illustrator abandons himself to “direct copying.” In opposition to this idea, T.A. Heslop concludes “it would be a mistake to regard the pictures of the Eadwine as copies in the strict sense of the word.” In support of Heslop, the Eadwine Psalter does make distinct stylistic alterations especially in the earlier Psalms updating the manuscript, using the page layout and illustration of the Utrecht only as a reference point. Like its model, the Eadwine Psalter includes drawings that interpret the Psalms in a literal context and often keeps the same organization of illustration. In some instances, the illustrator would rationalize the composition and change small details such as “pose, costume, and architecture” to appeal to a newer, broader audience. One of the most distinguishable differences between the Utrecht and Eadwine is the use of colour. Unlike the Utrecht’s monochrome brown ink pen drawings, the Eadwine illustrators use vibrant colours and gold to bring their works to life and add detail. The Eadwine Psalter also deviates in style, adapting to a more formal technique of illustration by using harsh straight lines, a stronger sense of three-dimensionality and the addition of pictorial and decorative embellishment. Through this style, the illustrator removes…show more content…
Psalm 1 describes the “Lord” watching “over the way of the righteous / but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Both the Utrecht and the Eadwine Psalter portray this Psalm with the contrast between “Superbia” and Christ with the demons and “pit of hell.” In the Eadwine Psalter, Psalm 1 is believed to be one of the works illustrated by an artist that was not the Primary Illustrator. Scholars have made this distinction due to the rationalized compositions and changed details of pose, costume and architecture from later Psalms. The Eadwine very clearly demonstrates the way in which Romanesque artist tidied up and regularized the Utrecht showing some instances of “freedom of invention in detailing” which intensifies the implication of the illustration. The most drastic change between the Psalters is that rectangular compartments, which are divided by a horizontal line, have replaced the “sloping ground lines of the landscape” in the Utrecht. This organization has multiple advantages: for example, the “cathedra pertilentiae” on the sinister side of the picture no longer appears more elevated than the habitation of the “righteous” leveling the distinction between good and evil. Arguably, the organization of the scene “makes for greater didactic clarity” which allows even the illiterate reader to better understand the Psalm for its intended context of praising the

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