Manuscript Leaf with the Agony in the Garden and Betrayal of Christ, from a Royal Psalter
Tempera and gold on parchment
Overall: 9 1/4 x 6 1/2 in. (23.5 x 16.5 cm) Illumination: 7 1/2 x 5 in. (19.1 x 12.7 cm) Mat size: 14 x 11 in. (35.5 x 27.9 cm)
Manuscripts and Illuminations
Rogers Fund, 1922
Not on view
This manuscript leaf was once part of a Book of Psalms, a compendium of the 150 celebrated biblical poems of praise. This Psalter was made for an English monarch, probably Queen Eleanor of Provence (ca. 1223–1291), the wife of King Henry III. The queen likely bequeathed it to her niece, Eleanor of Brittany, who later became abbess of Fontevrault, in western France, where the manuscript was once preserved. Illustrated pages preceding the text show key events in the life of Christ immediately before his Crucifixion. Here, at the top, he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Jerusalem, while the apostles sleep nearby. Below, his apostle Judas Iscariot betrays him to the authorities as his apostle Peter, in anger, cuts off the ear of Malchus, one of Jesus’s attackers. A thirteenth-century stone relief from Amiens Cathedral (17.120.5), exhibited on the wall nearby, depicts a similar detail: Peter stands over Malchus, sword in hand, while Christ reattaches the severed ear.
Fontevrault Abbey ; Queen Eleanor of Provence(?); [ S. Durlacher, London (sold 1922)]
Burroughs, Bryson. "A Thirteenth-Century Manuscript." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 17 (July 1922). pp. 153-155.
Gillerman, Dorothy, ed. Transformations of the Court Style: Gothic Art in Europe, 1270 to 1330. Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1977. p. 120.
Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 84, pp. 93, 95.
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Higgitt, John. The Murthly Hours: Devotion, Literacy and Luxury in Paris, England and the Gaelic West. London: British Library, 2000. pp. 225-226.