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Theodore Psalter 
11th century manuscript psalter
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Instance of illuminated manuscript,
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  • 1066
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Psautier de Théodore (fr); Theodore Psalter (en) 11th century manuscript psalter (en)

The Theodore Psalter (British Library Additional MS 19352) is one of the most famous illuminated manuscripts to survive from the Byzantine Empire. Completed in Constantinople in February 1066, the Psalter consists of 208 folios which include 440 separate images, making it the most fully illuminated Psalter to come down from Byzantium. It is undeniably one of the greatest treasures of Byzantine manuscript production and of supreme importance for our understanding of Byzantine art.

Two centuries before its production, the iconoclastic movement had been defeated, making representational art obligatory for divine worship. From that time onwards the art of icons once again flourished. It is within this context that the Theodore Psalter should be understood.

The Psalter contains 151 Psalms (ff. 1-189), a twelve-syllable poem on David’s early life in the form of a liturgical drama, in dialogue, based on Psalm 151 (ff. 189v-191), a prayer offered on behalf of Abbot Michael (ff. 191v–192), the Canticles (ff. 192v–208), as well as a dedication and colophon (f. 207v and f. 208). The Psalms and the Canticles are numbered next to their titles and the Psalm text is divided between kathismata and staseis, according to liturgical practice. A plethora of initial letters is ornamented.

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