Leaf from the Arenberg Psalter


Arranged in a double-tiered format, this leaf from a deluxe psalter depicts the Flagellation of Christ and the Crucifixion set against a solid gold background. The unusual frame heightens the drama of the narrative. Grammatical clues in the manuscript’s Latin prayers indicate that it was created for a woman, perhaps as a gift for the wedding of Helen, the daughter of Duke Otto of Brunswick, to Hermann II of Thuringia. This book marks the emergence of a new style of painting known as Zackenstil (Zigzag style), derived in part from Byzantine and Venetian art, and characterized by thick, jagged folds of drapery that defy gravity. This new style spread quickly throughout the empire, becoming a standard mode of figural representation across all artistic media.

Leaf from the “Arenberg Psalter,” in Latin
Germany, Hildesheim, ca. 1239
Art Institute of Chicago
Purchased on the S. A. Sprague Fund, 1924.671