David and Joel
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German, Würzburg, about 1240 - 1250
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

8 15/16 x 6 3/16 in.

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A monumental miniature of the Old Testament prophets David and Joel marks one of the three major textual divisions of the psalms in this psalter. Paired with an image of the Pentecost across the double-page spread, David and Joel stand beneath an arcade that appears as part of a cityscape, holding scrolls with Old Testament verses understood to refer to the Pentecost. While retaining the strong outlines and emphasis on decorative pattern characteristic of Romanesque illumination, the artist paid particular attention to the expressive potential of the figures. Their facial features are finely drawn, their gestures bold, and their drapery angular. The use of deep, rich colors and profuse gold leaf, here creating a glowing ground for the figures, gives the illumination its stately transcendent tone.

Painted in Würzburg, one of the major centers of thirteenth-century illumination, the miniatures in this psalter are remarkable for their combination of naturalism and abstraction, marking a transition from Romanesque to Gothic in the art of Germany.