Psalter, Master of Jacques de Besançon

Collection ID







Paris, (France)




Ink on Vellum


192 + ii leaves; 9.8 × 6.7 × 2.4 in. (25.0 × 17.1 × 6.0 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This Psalter begins with an elaborate calendar containing feast days in gold, red, and blue ink. Each calendar month is surrounded by panels of floral designs that have been subdivided into zones of differing colors and flowers. Miniatures adorn the side and bottom margins of the calendars, depicting scenes from rural life and representations of the zodiac. Seven additional full-page miniatures appear throughout the text. The scribe used a brown ink that harmonizes well with the color scheme of the occasional border pieces that maintain the floral patterns of the calendar throughout the manuscript. The illuminator of the Psalter was the Master of Jacques de Besançon, whose clientele included members of the French royal court, including Kings Charles VIII and Louis XII.

Created around 1490 in Paris, France, and illuminated by the Master of Jacques de Besançon. Acquired before 1938 by Alexander “Sándor” Wolf (1871–1946), an Austrian wine merchant and collector of art and antiquities; Confiscated, along with Wolf’s collection, by the Gestapo after the Anschluss in 1938 in exchange for Wolf’s life, which allowed his subsequent escape to Palestine.[1] Sold at auction June 23, 1948, at Galerie Kundig, Geneva, Switzerland, Lot 26.[2] Sold at auction on June 22, 1959, at Galerie Fischer, Luzerne, Switzerland, as part of the legal settlement between Frieda Löwy (1877–1963), Sándor Wolf’s sister and heir, and the Austrian government, to a private collector.[3] Auctioned in 2007 by Galerie Fischer, Luzerne, Switzerland. Acquired by Jörn Günther; Purchased in 2010 by the Green Collection of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2015 to National Christian Foundation (later the Signatry) under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.[4]

Notes: [1] See his biography at with more detail about his family at and Wolf died in Haifa in 1946 before he could return to Austria and attempt to reclaim his collection. His sister, Frieda Löwy, then took over the task of trying to reclaim his collection from the Austrian government. [2] Dealer notes from Jörn Günther. [3] Galerie Fischer catalog, Kunstauktion, June 2007, Lot 2733. Much of Wolf’s collection stayed in Austria at the Landesmuseum Burgenland in Eisenstadt. The legal settlement allowed Löwy to auction off the rest over several months in 1958 and 1959. [4] Art Loss Register reference number S00129918, dated 27 November 2017.

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