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Initial E: David Playing the Harp
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Bute Master
French, northeastern France, about 1270 - 1280
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.
MS. 46, FOL. 61V

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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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