Psautier d’Ingeburge

hand-painted illuminated facsimile commissioned for

Dr. Matthew Brogdon

  • MS 9/1695
  • fol.12 verso
  • Moses and the Burning Bush
  • Moses and the Tablets of Law
  • Facsimile of the Ingeborg Psalter
  • Originally created in Noyon, France, circa 1210
  • Illumination masters unknown

The manuscript of 200 folios contains 150 psalms and other liturgical texts. 24 pages are illuminated with miniatures, generally with two scenes, one above the other. The psalter was commissioned for Ingeborg of Denmark who became Queen of France through her marriage to Philip II (reigned 1180-1223). It is believed to have been produced at the Cistercian nunnery of Fervaques near Saint Quentin. After her death in 1236, the psalter was taken into the collection of the royal family where it remained until the 14th Century. It was among the collection of King Ludwig IX (1226 – 1270) and was kept in Château de Vincennes until 1418. Thereafter, the historical trail was lost until it appeared again in England in the 17th Century. Later, it was part of the collection of a count of Lignac from whence the Duke of Aumale came into possession of it. It was given to the Musée Condé in 1892.

The opulent miniatures in the Ingeborg Psalter are distinguished from earlier Romanesque works by innovative stylistic features and were a major influence on later Gothic illumination.It is without a doubt the most important illuminated manuscript still in existence of those created in France at the turn of the 13th Century. These paintings emerged out of a creative phase of transition in the artistic landscape from the Romanesque to the Gothic which had long since taken root in the spheres of architecture and sculpture.

The magnificent psalter was created for private devotion and came into being in a time in which French art and culture was blossoming into its highest form. Cities, with their mighty cathedrals, became the communal and religious centers of the country. The sculptured figures for Chartres Cathedral were well advanced by 1200. Plans for sculptures for the portals of Reims and the west-portal of Notre Dame in Paris were complete and sculptors beginning to work on them. The architectural masterpieces of the cathedral, collegiate and monastic churches, which united sculptural art and stained glass windows in a mystical symphony to an integrated work of art, were not only monumental instruments of religious thought; they expressed also the new political role of France within Europe. By the time the France had freed itself from English rule in the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, a spiritual renaissance was well under way.

The introductory series of miniatures of the Ingeborg Psalter contains scene from the Old Testament, a miniature of the “Root of Jesse” – the family tree of Jesus, scenes from the life of Christ, an image of the death and crowning of Mary as well as four scenes from the Legend of Theophilus. This type of picture sequence as autonomous preface to the psalter itself is believed to have been modeled on English illumination art. Traces of other, much older models shine through in peculiarities in the compositions and details which follow the symbolic language of Byzantium and Normandy as grandiosely represented in the mosaic series of Palermo, Monreale or Cefalù. The above-mentioned stylistic principle obeys, for example, the schematic formalism numerous figure groupings, the composition of single figures into groupings that are outlined by a stark contour line.

The style of the Master of the Ingeborg Psalter represents a turning point in the history of European painting when artists left behind abstract and highly stylized forms in favor of a more naturalistic representation of the visible world. The three-dimensional quality of the figures, their heroic proportions, and their expressive movements stand out as the new elements in his work, those essential to the emerging Gothic style of the early 1200s. For the most part, the figures are posed in calm postures, even in the presence of dramatic events. Dignified human figures, reminiscent of the monumental yet elegant cathedral sculptures of that period, dominate the images. There is no room for that which is incidental, or it is – as in the background of the landscapes – generously stylized and reduced to the most minimal indicators of place.

The structure of the gilding and the elegant, fragile ornamentation of the small frames which surround the miniatures are elements which indicate a new direction for the future. This also includes a new color palette. The most commonly used colors of Byzantine artwork are still present but deep blues and brilliant carmine reds force themselves ever more to the foreground and create a mysterious glow as that which is intimated in a Gothic stained-glass window. The Ingeborg Psalter does not, however, follow the example of the “stained-glass tapestries” in their structural system. Still, its miniatures remain conventional with two panels, one over another, drawn within a quadratic frame.

The Ingeborg Psalter documents, in addition, innovations in the art of illumination in the early phases of a development which is essential for the understanding and artistic appreciation of Gothic book which is, namely, a specific gestalt of the text blocks. With its early Gothic Miniscule, the text achieves an impressive amount of unity out of which the aesthetic charm of the highly cultivated Gothic calligraphic styles would emerge.

Walther, I.F., & Wolf, N. (2005). Meisterwerke der Buchmaleri: Die schöenste Handschriften der Welt von 400 bis 1600. Cologne, Germany: Taschen.

Selected texts translated by Dannette Wallace

Published in: on 18/10/2012 at 7:03 pm  Comments (3)  


It has been an extraordinarily long time since I have last posted. Sometimes the smooth precision of timepieces goes awry and the mechanisms seem to hinder the relentless flow of time. Whether this is simply a nuisance or an unexpected grace, I leave you to decide. It has been quite a tumultuous year in which I have embarked upon a new part of my journey intellectually, spiritually and artistically. Though creative endeavors have not been abandoned, there has been little time in which to showcase in this space the fruits of my labors. I shall be remedying this soon. It is all the more astonishing to find the frequent visits from unknown landscapes from wanderers who have happened upon this little corner of the world and often return. My hiatus is coming to an end and I turn once more to this window.


The vibrant colors of early summer are reflected in the brilliant jewel-tones of the pigments. Grinding them in rhythmic circles until they give up their essences to egg white, honey water and gum arabic is a meditation which brings pure and simple joy. A return to elemental groundedness…

Published in: on 15/05/2012 at 5:42 pm  Comments (1)  

The Vision of Masters: a divine alchemy

I cannot say how thrilled I am to share with all who are passionate about the art of medieval illumination that my dear friends and mentors, Renaud and Mireille Marlier, have at long last created a website about their work.

Medieval illumination facsimile by Renaud Marlier

The site includes wonderful examples of his exquisite illuminations of both original designs as well as his facsimiles from many different centuries of sacred and secular themes.  His work is of the finest caliber and unparalleled in this modern age.

Both Renaud and his wife and creative partner, Mireille, not only execute works of art befitting the masters that they are; they also specialize in scientific research of materials used in medieval painting. Their research on the history and usage of natural pigments, binding agents, gold leaf and raised gilding, among many others, is extensive. Their new website is a treasure trove for those who are interested in using authentic materials in their painting or are simply fascinated with understanding medieval book illumination.

Part of a pigment chart by Mireille and Renaud

I encourage all who come to visit my humble atelier to travel on to admire the offerings of true masters.

They may be found at the link below.


All photos are property of Mireille and Renaud Marlier.

Published in: on 01/03/2011 at 5:22 am  Comments (2)  


2010 was a very challenging year creatively and practically. It brought with it much change and a chance to ground myself in a new reality. In honor of the new year breaking open to offer its new chances to dream, live and learn, I have decided to dismantle what has  hitherto been my only WordPress site: Atelier Pigmenta Peregrinae. That will remain but I would like to tease apart the different elements of my creative aspirations to give them ample room to fly.

This site will be dedicated solely to my illumination and bookbinding creations and pursuits. My poetry, literary critique and general blog will be housed at Butterflyweaver Press. Another new addition will be The Lepidopterarium which is where my silversmithing and ephemeral art will find a nice niche. Finally, The Habit of Silence will be a new thanatological journal that I am going to keep specifically addressing the work that I will be beginning at Covenant Hospice in January. Everything will be a wee bit chaotic as I move things about. The links will be in the sidebar to all the rest.

One lovely thing that happened in 2010 was the publication of two of my poems in The New Art Review.

Thanks to all who have visited and will visit these quiet realms of mine. I wish each and every one of you a wonderful new year of pursuing your dreams.

Published in: on 02/01/2011 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  

The Alchemical Pigmentation of Scott Marr

There is something ancient and alchemical about the artistic vision of Australian artist  Scott Marr. The natural world emerges with a wild dignified beauty in his work which resonates with something deep within me. The respectful and gentle manner in which he uses the collected gifts of nature is infused with an intuitive understanding of his natural environment. I, too, see landscapes in all of the parts of the whole… universes in the reflections of raindrops and land-maps etched into the underbellies of leaves. It is incredible how he sets those intricate dimensions free in his work, more dimensional than mere reality. I am sure I shall return many times to wander among the images of his world, seeking out treasures missed beneath my feet and finding worlds opening up in the intricacies of his irons and brushes… treasures which are earthbound yet utterly enchanting.

“We Are What We Eat” by Scott Marr

“It is unusual to see the skill, originality and aesthetics come together, especially in a young artist. Scott is intensely passionate and excited about his work and the direction in which it’s going. It is this unique blending of pyrography, natural pigmentation and nature-based material that I really like about his work.”

Warwick Fuller – Australian landscape artist

“Everything I touch and collect is real… The idea of beauty or whether it is well crafted – there are many aspects to that reality.”

“Another thing that I find fascinating, even when I’m down at the coast, is how closely related things are from the sea to things that are found in the bush. Essentially to me even a jellyfish is an entire landscape.”

Published in: on 15/03/2010 at 5:48 pm  Comments (4)  

Goldleafing a Dream

Goldleafing a Dream – by Phillip Wilcher – manuscript


Goldleafing a Dream – Poem by Phillip Wilcher

initial sketch with first ink detailing

finished illumination

This is a project which was inspired by a musical composition entitled “Goldleafing a Dream” that Australian composer, Phillip Wilcher, wrote after viewing some of my illumination work. It has become a collaboration of music, text and imagery.

Please visit his website to learn more about his work and hear his exquisite compositions.

Published in: on 04/01/2010 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Portrait of Anne of Brocéliande – by Richard Moult

Portrait of Anne of Brocéliande by Richard Moult

This portrait was done by an incredible artist and dear friend who inspires me and my work.

Please visit his sites to see his work and hear his music…

Published in: on 15/12/2009 at 7:44 pm  Comments (1)