Rising Water and Desperation in an Ingeniously Designed Initial


(France, mid-13th century). 153 x 103 mm. (6 x 4"). Double column, 50 lines in a very fine gothic pearl script.

Rubrics in red, numerous one-line initials in red or blue, four two-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, and A FIVE-LINE HISTORIATED INITIAL SHOWING KING DAVID AS AN ORANT IN WATER, BEING BLESSED BY A HALOED GOD. A FINE LEAF--clean, smooth, and bright, with good margins and very pleasing historiation.

Our initial has animated, desperate, and ingeniously designed historiation: King David is separated from his God by the central horizontal element of the "S" ("Salvum me fac") that begins the Psalm. The Lord is giving his blessing, but at least in visual terms, he is out of reach. David is in a cramped space, and water, already chest high, is rising. The text is suitably plaintive: "Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men."

Keywords: Bibles