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Copy from the Howard Psalter

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1860-1865 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shaw, Henry, born 1800 - died 1873 (illuminator)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigments, gilding and ink on parchment

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 81, box X

Henry Shaw was a prolific recorder of medieval artefacts. He was mainly interested in manuscripts (hand-written books). In 1864 he was asked to evaluate the V&A's collection of 'Illuminations'. He criticised the collection because he thought that German and Italian illumination of the later medieval period was over-represented. He suggested that the Museum should commission him to make copies rather than collect expensive originals. It could choose from a list of famous manuscripts that he would supply.

In 1866 the V&A spent nearly £100 acquiring facsimile copies of well-known manuscripts. They added a new dimension to the V&A collection. They provided examples of the marvellously inventive English Psalters of the 14th century. This example shows typical anecdotal border ornament.

Physical description

Specimen of a manuscript

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca.1860-1865 (made)


Shaw, Henry, born 1800 - died 1873 (illuminator)

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigments, gilding and ink on parchment


Height: 33.8 cm, Width: 23.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased on 23 May 1868 from Henry Shaw, together with 81 other 'specimen copies' by him. The 82 copies were purchased for a total of £800. They were numbered 5857 to 5938. This information comes from the Register of Drawings 1868 (5616 to 6795), p. 166.

Descriptive line

Copy by Henry Shaw from the Howard Psalter, made in England in the early 14th century; England (London); ca 1866-1868


Parchment; Ink; Gold; Pigments


Illumination; Technique; Calligraphy

Subjects depicted

Owl; Prophets; Birds; Squirrel; The Tree of Jesse; Deer; Rabbit


Christianity; Religion; Manuscripts; Copies; Medieval and renaissance


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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