The Paris Psalter
(Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale
, MS. gr. 139) is a Byzantine illuminated manuscript
containing 449 folio
and 14 full-page miniatures "in a grand, almost classical style", as the Encyclopædia Britannica
put it.Together with Basil I
's Homilies of St Gregory Nazianzus
, the Paris Psalter is considered a key monument of the so-called Macedonian Renaissance
in Byzantine art
during the 10th century.
The most famous miniature depicts David
playing the harp at the side of the seated female figure of "Melody
" (illustrated, to the right
). Around this central group are the figure of Echo
, various animals charmed by music, and even a male figure symbolising the town of Bethlehem
. The whole composition was likely modelled on a Greco-Roman wall painting representing Orpheus
charming the world with his music.
This and other miniatures are so Hellenistic
in execution and so unlike the received notion of what medieval art in general and Byzantine art
in particular should look like, that most 19th-century authorities dated the manuscript to the time of Justinian
. The Byzantists Hugo Buchthal
and Kurt Weitzmann
conclusively demonstrated that the book was created in the 10th century, however.
- Frescoes in a related style
- Walther, Ingo F. and Norbert Wolf. Codices Illustres: The world's most famous illuminated manuscripts, 400 to 1600. Köln:Taschen, 2005.