Manuscript Leaf with King David in an Initial I, from a Psalter

Date: early 15th century

Culture: North Italian

Medium: Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment

Dimensions: 18 1/8 x 13 13/16in. (46 x 35.1cm)
Other (Stave Height): 1 5/16in. (3.3cm)
Mat: 28 × 22 in. (71.1 × 55.9 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Gift of Miss Alice M. Dike, in memory of her father, Henry A. Dike, 1928

Accession Number: 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."