Initial E: David Playing the Harp

Object Details

Title:

Initial E: David Playing the Harp

Artist/Maker(s):

Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 - 1290)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Northeastern (illuminated) France Paris (written) France (Place created)

Date:

illumination about 1270 - 1280; written about 135 - 1375

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 17 x 11.9 cm (6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.)

See more

See less

In one of the smaller initials in the Bute Psalter, the initial E of Psalm 44, King David sits before a city. Singing as he plays the harp, David appears not only as the author of the psalms but also as their performer. Angels clustered nearby accompany him with musical instruments, including a vielle (fiddle), a buisine (straight trumpet), and percussion.

At the bottom of the page, a queen and her court of noblewomen pray from open books. Through such images, the original owner of this manuscript, most likely a noblewoman, could recognize the importance of her own devotional act of reading the psalms.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Musicians and Instruments in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (January 25 to April 10, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 25 to April 10, 1994
Devotion and Desire: Views of Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (July 25 to October 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 25 to October 8, 1995
Out-of-Bounds: Marginal Imagery in Illuminated Manuscripts (April 7, 1998 to July 5, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 7 to July 5, 1998
Medieval Mastery: Illumination from Charlemagne to Charles the Bold (800-1475) (September 21 to December 8, 2002)
  • Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens, (Leuven), September 21 to December 8, 2002
French Manuscript Illumination in the Middle Ages (January 23 to April 15, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2007
Music for the Masses: Illuminated Choir Books (August 14 to October 28, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 14 to October 28, 2007