King David in Prayer in an Initial B

Artist: Zanobi Strozzi (Italian, Florence 1412–1468 Florence)

Date: ca. 1450

Medium: Tempera on parchment

Dimensions: 5 5/8 x 5 3/8 in. (14.2 x 13.5cm)
Initial Ground: 4 13/16 x 4 13/16 in.

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.2470


The initial B introduces Psalm 1: B[eatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in via peccatorum non] stetit et in c[athedra pestilentiae non sedit] ("Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers").
King David kneels in prayer, his eyes raised toward a vision of the hand of God, blessing him from the heavens; nearby are his crown and psaltery, a stringed instrument. In the upper and lower left corners are the cropped figures of two Benedictine monks. This initial was removed from a now-lost psalter (a book of psalms) produced for the monks of the Benedictine abbey of Florence, the Badia Fiorentina. The volume was decorated by the Florentine painter and illuminator Strozzi, a follower and assistant of Fra Angelico.