Initial D: The Anointing of David

Object Details


Initial D: The Anointing of David


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




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


illumination about 1270 - 1280; written about 135 - 1375


Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment


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

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Within the initial D opening Psalm 26, Samuel annoints King David, traditionally believed to be the author of the psalms. The heartfelt poetic text on the right reads: Dominus illuminat[i]o mea et salus mea. Quem timebo (The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom will I fear?). On the left, the illuminator playfully extended the lines of the historiated initial into the margin, painting a series of swirling vine leaves. On the vine extension across the bottom of the page, a woman with a drum gracefully sways, her right hand held to her ear. The gesture of listening and the reference to music may refer to the singing of the psalms in devotional practice.

Related Works
Ten Centuries of French Illumination (April 23 to July 7, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 23 to July 7, 1996
Temptation and Salvation: The Psalms of King David (June 9 to August 16, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 9 to August 16, 2009