King David in an Initial I, early 15th century
Leaf from a psalter
Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
Gift of Alice M. Dike, in memory of her father, Henry A. Dike, 1928 (28.225.65)
Christians of the Middle Ages traced their tradition of religious music to the biblical king David. This intensely colored illumination, by an unknown artist for an unknown commission, is a singularly beautiful evocation of David as author of the 150 psalms. Quill in hand, he cocks his head to listen to the voice of God, whose face appears in the clouds. The image serves as counterpoint to the text, in which David implores: "Incline thy ear, O Lord, and hear me."