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Miniature from a Psalter: MS 330.iv

An image of Cutting (manuscript)

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Miniature from a Psalter


Illuminator: Brailes, William de
Scribe: Brailes, William de




PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: trimmed miniature including medallions 184 x 167 mm (diameter of circle 161 mm), inlaid in a modern parchment leaf 364 x 290 mm

DECORATION: Full-page circular miniature framed in tan and outlined in black on blue and reddish brown ground with concentric circles containing foliate ornament and gold ground ornamented with punched dots: Wheel of Fortune, with crowned female personification of Fortune enthroned at the centre, turning the wheel, which is surrounded by eight semi-circular compartments depicting the story of Theophilus (clockwise from top right): the tonsured clerk Theophilus, holding scroll inscribed INCIPIT YSTORIA THEOPILI, is dismissed from his post; half-naked, seated Theophilus, holding scroll inscribed IN PAUP[ER]TATE DESPERO, lamenting his impoverished state; naked Theophilus makes pact with the devil; Theophilus enthroned, with his fortune restored by the devil, and flanked by demons; repentant Theophilus, holding scroll inscribed MISERE MISERI DIABOLO CAR[TAM] FECI, prays to the Virgin whose scroll reads MARIA AD TEOPHILUM; the Virgin with scroll reading S[AN]CTA MARIA retrieves charter from the devil; Theophilus kneels before the Virgin who gives him the charter; Theophilus’ body lies in tomb while angels transport his soul to heaven. Sixteen subsidiary scenes in two medallions (centre top and bottom), and fourteen semi-circular compartments around the outer edge of the wheel show the Ages of Man (clockwise from bottom left): woman with baby approached by female figure, possibly Fortune, holding scroll inscribed INCIPIT ROTA FORTU[N]E; toddler pushing wheeled cart; youth with bow and quiver; young man holding scroll inscribed [RURSUS AD ASTRA] FEROR; young man with sceptre; bearded man with staff; bearded man holding sceptres; enthroned king with scroll reading GLOR[I]E [E]LATUS; king with broken sceptre and crown toppling from head; man falling to his knees, cloak in disarray; man falling downwards; man falling headlong downwards with scroll inscribed DE[S]CENDO [MIN]ORIFICATUS; half-naked man, wringing his hands as he falls; half-naked man plunges down; man falls on his back; half-naked man lies naked on ground with scroll emerging from his mouth inscribed INFIMUS AXA TENOR.


History note: Provenance note: Joseph-Baptiste Barrois (1784-1855); Bertram, fourth earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878); Bertram, fifth earl of Ashburnham (1840-1913); his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 10-14 June 1901, Barrois collection, lot 404; purchased by Quaritch; George C. Thomas of Philadelphia; Dr A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876-1952); purchased from him by Sydney Cockerell in 1920 for Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968); his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 7 June 1932, lot 11; withdrawn before the sale at Sydney Cockerell’s initiative and purchased for the Museum by the National Art Collections Fund in 1932.

Legal notes

Purchased from Alfred Chester Beatty, through the National Art Collections Fund

Place(s) associated

  • Oxford ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1932) by Beatty, Chester


13th Century, first half
Circa 1230 CE - Circa 1250 CE

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment
Of Circle Diameter 161 mm
Miniature Height 184 mm Width 167 mm
Parchment Leaf Height 364 mm Width 290 mm

Techniques used in production


References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS 330.iv
Primary reference Number: 209487
Project ID: 3491
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 1 November 2016 Updated: Thursday 17 September 2020 Last processed: Monday 13 November 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Miniature from a Psalter" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-12-07 11:37:08

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