Initial E: David Lifting up His Soul to God
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Franco dei Russi
Italian, Ferrara, about 1455 - 1460/1463
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
8 x 7 1/2 in.

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David kneels in a mountainous landscape set against a darkened sky. He holds his harp in his left hand while raising the small white figure of his soul up to God, at upper left, with his right hand. Winged children, known as putti, climb through the colorful curling vines that fill the margins of the page. This impressive leaf is the frontispiece of the first volume of an antiphonal belonging to a famous series of at least fifteen choir books commissioned by Cardinal Bessarion (about 1399/1408-1472), who was a papal representative in Bologna between 1450 and 1455, and whose coat of arms appears in the lower margin of this page.