TREASURES OF THE LIBRARY PODCAST: Dr Julian Luxford on the “St Andrews Psalter”

Monday 24 February 2014

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In the summer of 2013, the University Library set out to capture the reactions of academic and library staff when encountering their favourite items from the Special Collections Division. For this project, authors for articles for Treasures of St Andrews University Library (London, 2010) were asked to speak about the item or collection they highlighted in this publication.

In this Treasures of the Library podcast, Dr Julian Luxford, Reader in Art History, talks about the stunningly beautiful “St Andrews Psalter”, a manuscript which has been in the possession of the University Library since at least the later 17th century. The luxuriously illuminated pages which introduce the eight sections of the Book of Psalms, which were commonly used in medieval religious houses, are a glorious tangle of foliage, animals and humans in vivid colours and burnished gold. A miniature of King David playing a harp, a splendid yellow gryphon associated with a parrot which may reflect the heraldic emblem of the Yorkshire family  Senhouse (who may therefore have been responsible for the commissioning of the work), and an enigmatic illustration of St Francis apparently in conversation with a chattering magpie all add to the artistic importance of the manuscript, which was probably written in or around London in the mid 15thcentury.

Detail of King David depicted within an illuminated initial 'B' from the “St Andrews Psalter” (St Andrews msBX2033.A00)
Detail of King David depicted within an illuminated initial ‘B’ from the “St Andrews Psalter” (St Andrews msBX2033.A00)

The article written by Dr Luxford about this item is to be found on pp. 72-75 of Treasures of St Andrews University Library (London, 2010). This short video is one of several which have been made based on the book. The entire set, which will be added to periodically, is available on the University of St Andrews Library YouTube channel.

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