Reference Entry

Odbert of St Bertin

Claire Kelleher

in Oxford Art Online

Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:

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  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)


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(fl ad 986; d 1007).

French illuminator. Abbot of St Bertin at Saint-Omer from 986, Odbert was an eclectic artist who decorated six major manuscripts and eight lesser ones, the most important being the large St Bertin Psalter (Boulogne, Bib. Mun., MS. 20) dated 999, with an inscription naming Odbert as the illuminator. It contains 3 full-page illustrations and 180 decorated initials, 33 of them with coloured pen outline drawings of the Life of Christ. Fourteen others, which are richly painted, most unusually indicate the three types of Psalter division, while the rest are again in coloured inks. The full-page illustrations, the figures, and rich initials are Anglo-Saxon in style, but the rest show a French influence. The source of the iconography is unclear. Two other manuscripts, the Lives of the Patrons of St Bertin (Boulogne, Bib. Mun., MS. 107), with 16 full-page decorations, and a partly damaged copy of the Gospels (New York, Morgan Lib., MS. 333), also draw heavily on contemporary Anglo-Saxon art and have purple grounds and richly painted acanthus-leaf and vine-scroll borders. The latter contains tinted outline portraits of the Evangelists that are obvious copies of Anglo-Saxon figures, and it has been suggested that Anglo-Saxon artists may have worked at St Bertin. By contrast, the ...

Reference Entry.  385 words. 

Subjects: Book Arts and Illustration ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)

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