Initial S: The Lord Appearing to David in the Water

Object Details


Initial S: The Lord Appearing to David in the Water


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




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


text and illumination about 1285


Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment


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

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"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up unto my soul," sings King David in the opening line of Psalm 68. The illuminator illustrated this prayer for salvation by showing David in the bottom of the initial, nude in the rising waters, his graceful gestures expressive of helplessness. In the top half of the S, God descends from the clouds. While his body echoes David's curving posture, God's raised right arm with his hand ending in a gesture of blessing functions as a sign of his saving power.

In the space of the lower margin, a figure prays to heaven while a monkey prepares to strike him from behind.

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