The Tickhill Psalter: A Glorious Example of English Gothic Art

This Psalter is named for John Tickhill, Prior of the Augustinian Canon Priory of Worksop in Nottinghamshire, who, according to a 15th-century inscription, "wrote and also gilded this book with his own hands." Tickhill was elected prior in 1303 and dismissed for fiscal malfeasance in 1314, and it is possible that the costs of this manuscript contributed to his financial troubles. One of the most lavishly illuminated of all 14th-century English manuscripts, the Psalter is in fact unfinished, a probable result of the loss of funding to continue the work. Both the textual and the pictorial contents of the Tickhill Psalter are extraordinary. The figural decorations, consisting of large historiated initials and bas-de-page (bottom of the page) scenes, form a continuous series of narrative illustrations drawn from the Old Testament. The series opens with a full-page Tree of Jesse tracing the descent of Christ from the Old Testament King David, and his father, Jesse, a common introductory illustration in Psalters of the 13th and 14th centuries. The artists who contributed to this volume may have worked in the important cathedral city of York.


Tickhill Psalter. Manuscript on parchment; in Latin. England, Worksop Priory, Nottinghamshire, after 1303-ca. 1314.
The New York Public Library, Spencer Collection.


More Images from the Tickhill Psalter

Related Publication: The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library

Exhibition Brochure: The Splendor of the Word: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts at The New York Public Library

About the Spencer Collection