Oct 16, 2012
Oct 16, 2012

Leaf from a Psalter with Historiated Initial (B): King David

Leaf from a Psalter with Historiated Initial (B): King David

c. 1450

Ink, tempera, and gold on parchment

Sheet: 45.7 x 34.3 cm (18 x 13 1/2 in.)

Gift of Dr. Norman Zaworski 1964.149


Did you know?

The larger size of this leaf indicates it could be used by a group of readers.


Books of hours evolved from psalters, books that contained the Old Testament book of Psalms (sacred songs) for use in churches. Psalters also included calendars, prayers for the dead, and a specific group of prayers known as the Hours of the Virgin. By the 1200s, laypeople were requesting psalters without the cumbersome psalms, and thus the book of hours was born. This leaf contains Psalm 1, which begins with a large, decorated B containing an image of King David kneeling with a plucking instrument on the ground. The text says beatus vir qui non abit, or “blessed is the man.”

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