Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination fron Philadelphia Collections
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  Image of Gallican Psalter  
Gallican Psalter with Calendar, Canticles, Collects, Litany, Office of the Dead, Hours of the Virgin, and the Seven Penitential Psalms
Northeastern France, c. 1270

Historiated Initial B with King David, the Blessed Man. This enlarged B is "historiated," meaning it contains scenes related to the surrounding text. The B, which introduces Psalm 1 in this manuscript, depicts scenes from the life of David, the Old Testament king and author of many of the psalms. In the upper part of the letter, David plays an organ, an allusion to his reputation as a great musician. Below, a youthful David fires his sling at Goliath. Outside the letter, a hunter aims his bow and arrow at a bird. This manuscript was owned by two French noblewomen, Constance de Foix (died 1332), and her daughter, Isabelle de Lévis (died 1361).

The Free Library of Philadelphia, Rare Book Department, Widener 9, fol. 19v

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Leaves of Gold is a collaborative exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries. All materials on this site are copyright 2001 the Philadelphia Museum of Art except as indicated herein.