Initial E: David Playing the Harp

Object Details


Initial E: David Playing the Harp


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




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


text and illumination about 1285


Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 46, fol. 61v


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

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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.

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