Initial D: David Pointing to His Mouth

Object Details

Title:

Initial D: David Pointing to His Mouth

Artist/Maker(s):

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

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Paris (written) France Northeastern (illuminated) 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.)

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A large historiated initial D opens Psalm 38: Dixi custodiam vias meas ut non delinq[ua]m in lingua mea (I said, "I will take heed to my ways that I not sin with my tongue"). Inspired by these words, the Bute Master depicted King David, traditionally considered the author of the psalms, pointing to his mouth. With his other hand, David gestures toward the ground and the seated woman at the bottom of the page. She in turn points toward a soldier. Presenting his back to the viewer, the soldier twists his head up and to the left while pointing his spear toward David. This series of gestures creates a visual circuit that links the figures as it guides the viewer's gaze around the page.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Manuscript Illumination of the 13th Century (January 21 to April 6, 1997)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 21 to April 6, 1997
The Glory of the Gothic Page (December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004
Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1200-1350 (December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012