The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Picturing Kingship

Picturing Kingship

History and Painting in the Psalter of Saint Louis Harvey Stahl
  • Copyright: 2007
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 11
  • Page Count: 464 pages
  • Illustrations: 60 color/50 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02863-7

Finalist, 2009 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, College Art Association

Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association

“Harvey Stahl’s posthumous study of the St. Louis Psalter promises to take its place as one of the finest monographs ever published on a medieval illuminated manuscript. The psalter provided the backbone of the liturgy and the primary vehicle of private prayer and study before the Book of Hours. One of the best-known manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages, St. Louis’s psalter is also, astonishingly, among the least studied. Stahl’s monograph considers all aspects of the manuscript, from its codicology to its content. Above all, he expands our notion of the expressive and visual capacity of thirteenth-century illumination, which too often is dismissed as stylized mannerism. This is a glorious book on a glorious manuscript.”
“The superlative Psalter of St. Louis was at the center of the late Harvey Stahl’s scholarly career. This study was conceived by him as a work that would do justice to that incomparable book. It is a worthy monument to scholar and subject.”
“Stahl’s analysis is cognent and in the main persuasive, written with concise elegance and conviction. This handsome volume will be the fundamental point of departure for any further study of the psalter, and necessary reading for all interested in this famous, important king. It should be in every library.”
Picturing Kingship—not a complete facsimile, but handsomely illustrated–-is the first full-scale monograph to be devoted to the manuscript. . . . Excellent colour plates reproduce all eight historiated psalm initials and three-quarters of the prefatory miniatures.”
Picturing Kingship is a handsomely produced volume, filled with sumptuous color images from the Saint Louis Psalter and other manuscript comparanda. It is a testament to the penetration of Harvey Stahl’s vision of the Saint Louis Psalter that his volume breathes new life into a well-known manuscript. With Picturing Kingship we have not only a major contribution to our understanding of this monument of Gothic painting but also an exemplar of what a monographic study of a single manuscript can achieve. Stahl’s compelling monograph has laid the groundwork for all future study of this important manuscript.”

Picturing Kingship presents the first comprehensive art-historical study of the personal prayerbook of King Louis IX. The book approaches the St. Louis Psalter through a rich range of perspectives and methodologies and positions it within the contexts of its production and use. Not only is the manuscript’s production and structure given detailed study, but the king’s ways of handling his prayerbook—his habits of reading, looking, and praying—are also set forth in a compelling narrative of his view of his sacred responsibilities as king.

In the first half of the book, Stahl investigates the Psalter’s physical construction and development within the context of manuscript production in thirteenth-century Paris. The second half looks at the Psalter’s thematic and iconographic workings and the role of the king’s adviser—Vincent of Beauvais—in the Psalter’s shaping. Most important, though, the author delves into the meanings the Psalter might have held for the king, who was a crusader and so devout a Christian that he was canonized by Boniface VIII. Stahl makes it clear that the Psalter, already recognized as one of the true masterworks of thirteenth-century French culture, should also be recognized as a significant force in Louis IX’s life and reign.

Harvey Stahl was Professor of Medieval Art at the University of California, Berkeley.


List of Illustrations

Foreword by Jacques Le Goff

Editor’s Note

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: The Manuscript and Its History

1. The Physical Manuscript

2. The Artists and Their Paintings

3. Constructions and Readings

4. Psalters and the Old Testament

5. A Royal Program

Conclusion: The King and His Psalter


Appendix I: Description

Appendix II: Legends

Appendix III: The Calendar (Folios 79r–84v)

Appendix IV: Text Signatures and Catchwords

Appendix V: Concordance of Attributions

Appendix VI: The Previous Binding and Its Textile Covering

Appendix VII: Prefatory Miniatures: Working Groups with Physical Variables



Other Ways to Acquire

Buy from
Buy from an Independent Bookstore
Buy from Powell's Books
Buy from Barnes and
Find in a Library

Also of Interest

Also of interest book cover

The King’s Body

Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Also of interest book cover

The Bernward Gospels

Art, Memory, and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany