The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Carolingian and Ottonian Art

What is a psalter?

A psalter is a book containing the text of the Book of Psalms from the Old Testament. The most famous Carolingian psalter is the Utrecht Psalter, known for its lively ink drawings. The manuscript was produced at the imperial scriptorium in Reims (in modern-day France) in the first half of the ninth century. The illustrations of the Utrecht Psalter incorporate architectural and landscape scenes, and the text features Roman-style majuscules. As psalms are not narrative, they are challenging to illustrate. The artists who created the Utrecht Psalter illustrated them by expressively visualizing specific phrases from the text.


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