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(Low Countries, ca. 1460). 90 x 70 mm. (3 1/2 x 2 3/4").
WITH A FULL-PAGE MINIATURE OF DAVID IN PRAYER within an arched gold frame and surrounded by a lovely demi-grisaille border of acanthus leaves, delicate hairline vinestems, an array of foliage, including thistles, and a small bird perched within. Verso with traces of glue from mounting, otherwise IN AN EXCELLENT STATE OF PRESERVATION.
Grisaille is an artistic technique involving monochrome painting that employs shades of gray (the term derives from the word "gris," French for "gray"). Normally executed using a black pigment such as lampblack and an inert white pigment, the technique first appeared in the late 13th century and experienced its greatest period of popularity from the second half of the 14th through the end of the 15th century. Sometimes, as in the present case, naturalistic color (light browns and golds, pinks, blues, and even a dash of red on David's cloak) will be added, resulting in a technique called demi-grisaille (or half-gray). The present miniature depicts a penitent David praying to God, whose visage emerges from above. Though our earthly king is dressed in a fine ermine robe, he is surrounded by an unforgiving, rocky landscape far from the Medieval city that appears on the horizon. The image of David in prayer normally opens the Seven Penitential Psalms. (Traditionally, David is credited as the author of the Psalms, and these seven in particular are associated with atonement for his sins, including adultery and murder.) Because there is no text here, we cannot know if this image, in fact, begins these particular prayers. Miniatures done in the Low Countries at this time were often without text and blank on the reverse; they were inserted as singletons at the appropriate place in a Book of Hours. (ST12993)