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Leaf from Psalter: Psalm 1, Initial B with David Harping Above and Decapitating Goliath Below
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Leaf from Psalter: Psalm 1, Initial B with David Harping Above and Decapitating Goliath Below


Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description The text of Psalm 1 on this page begins with a large, illuminated letter B. Inside the top part of the letter, Kind David sits playing his harp and in the bottom part he is shown decapitating Goliath. Below the text, another illustration shows Saul playing the bagpipe while David aims his slingshot at Goliath. This Psalter, with an additional Office of the Dead, was created in the late thirteenth century in northeastern France. A large quantity of Franciscan saints in the calendar and litany, as well as marginal imagery of them, suggests that the original owner had a strong affinity for that order. The manuscript was likely begun for one patron but finished for another, given a change in scribal and artistic hands and the addition of heraldry from Psalm 109 onward. Arms for the Fieschi family, as well as a birth notice in the calendar, identify the manuscript's first owner as Leonardo dei Fieschi, a Genoese nobleman (d. 1331). Among a multitude of drolleries, the manuscript contains a number of unusual marginal vignettes depicting SS. Francis, Clare, and Elisabeth of Hungary. One image of St. Francis (fol. 139v) is heavily worn, which may be evidence of devotional touching by the manuscript's owner.
Exhibitions
  • The Illuminated Initial. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1991-1992.
  • The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library's Medieval Picture Bible. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Academy Art Museum, Easton; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton; The Mitchell Gallery, Annapolis; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown. 2002.
Provenance Acquired by Leonardo dei Fieschi (d. 1331), Genoa, ca. 1290-1331. Acquired by Léon or Paul Gruel, Paris, ca. 1900-1910; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Creator
Period
ca. 1275-1300
Medium
ink and pigments on parchment
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
W.45.16R
Measurements
H: 7 1/16 × W: 5 1/16 in. (18 × 12.9 cm)
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