The Tree of Jesse
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Master of James IV of Scotland
Flemish, Bruges and Ghent or Mechelen, 1510 - 1520
Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment
9 1/8 x 6 9/16 in.

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At the bottom of the page, the Old Testament figure Jesse, dressed in sumptuous garments, reclines on a bed. A tree trunk grows out of him, its branches filling the miniature. Old Testament kings, most wearing crowns and carrying scepters, occupy the branches. King David is distinguished from the others by his harp. The tree culminates in a flower holding the Virgin and Child within a golden aureole. The image is a visualization of a prophecy of Isaiah: "And there will come forth a shoot out of the root of Jesse, and a flower will grow out of his root." Medieval Christians interpreted this enigmatic passage as a foretelling that Christ, the flower, would be born of the Virgin Mary, the shoot, who was descended from the Jewish patriarch Jesse, the father of King David.

As on the facing page, a few lines of text are included on an illusionistic hinged panel, which gives the impression that it could swing open to reveal more of the scene behind it.