Manuscript Leaf with the Agony in the Garden and Betrayal of Christ, from a Royal Psalter

Date: ca. 1270

Culture: British

Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment

Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/4 x 6 1/2 in. (23.5 x 16.5 cm)
Illumination: 7 1/2 x 5 in. (19.1 x 12.7 cm)
Mat size: 14 x 11 in. (35.5 x 27.9 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1922

Accession Number: 22.24.4


This illustrated manuscript leaf comes from an English psalter dating to around 1270. A psalter is a book of psalms from the Old Testament, and this particular example contains Psalms 1 through 80, as well as a calendar. The text of the manuscript is in Latin, and two additional full-page illuminations survive from the book, as well as marginalia and decorated initials. The manuscript might have been made for Queen Eleanor of Provence, who became a nun after the death of her husband, King Henry III of England, in 1272.
The page is divided into two panels depicting scenes from Christ's Passion. The upper panel is occupied by the episode known as the Agony in the Garden, in which Christ kneels in prayer at the far right wiwth his apostles sleeping at the left. In the lower panel, we see the Betrayal of Christ, in which Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss amidst a crowd of soldiers, apostles, and onlookers.