British Library acquires unique 15th century Lucas Psalter manuscript featuring previously unknown work by the Master of Edward IV

The Lucas Psalter, The British Library, Additional MS 89428
Today the British Library announces it has acquired the Lucas Psalter, an important and hitherto unknown copy of the Psalms dating from the second half of the 15th century.

Made in Bruges for an English patron, the late medieval manuscript is known as the Lucas Psalter after the added arms of Thomas Houchon Lucas (1460-1539) of Suffolk, the secretary to Jasper Tudor and Solicitor General under Henry VII.

Featuring eight large finely painted initials, the manuscript is a previously unknown example of the work of the Master of Edward IV, one of the most influential artists of the late Middle Ages. This Psalter is an unusual example of his painting in a sacred text, which might have originally formed part of a breviary volume or set of volumes. The artist is known for his contributions to manuscripts made for Edward IV, the majority of which are now in the Royal collection in the British Library.  

One of a handful of independent Psalter manuscripts dating from the second half of the 15th century in England, the Lucas Psalter offers considerable research potential in the selection and iconography of images for the major divisions of the text, the nature of the liturgical elements such as antiphons and hymns and its context and use.

Dr Kathleen Doyle, Lead Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, said: 

‘One of the British Library’s core purposes is to build, curate and preserve the UK’s collection of written, published and digital content and we continue to acquire medieval manuscripts to enhance the national collection. The Lucas Psalter is of clear artistic and cultural significance, and tells a fascinating English story. The manuscript reveals the close links with Europe and the interests of a middle ranking figure in Tudor society, Thomas Houchon Lucas of Suffolk, who was a secretary to Jasper Tudor. Lucas rose to a high office of state under Henry VII. His added arms (with those of his wife) demonstrate the distinctive and long-standing interest of English laity in the text of the Psalms.’

The British Library will digitise the Lucas Psalter to make it freely available online for everyone at Digitised Manuscripts before putting it on display in the free permanent gallery, Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library.

The Lucas Psalter was purchased by the British Library with the generous assistance of donations from Art Fund, the Bernard H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library and the British Library Collections Trust.

 

Images

Unless stated otherwise, media content on the press area of our website, including images, is protected by third-party rights such as copyright or trademarks. The British Library is permitted to make the content available to you for promoting associated British Library’s exhibitions, events or activities. If you are not using images to promote a British Library activity, you must clear all rights for your use of any in-copyright material beyond uses permitted under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  • Dimensions:
  • File size:

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact the British Library Press Office: alice.carter@bl.uk / +44 (0)7919 211 789

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to Covid-19 Art Fund has made £2 million in adapted funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 159,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. In a unique edition of the prize for 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums are facing by selecting five winners and increasing the prize money to £200,000. The winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne www.artfund.org   
 

For more information:

Alice Carter
The British Library
t: +44 (0)20 7412 7126
e: alice.carter@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Press Office contacts