The figure of King David kneels on the grass in prayer, his gaze upturned to the figure of God. A crown and the harp used for his composition of the psalms lie before him on the ground. God the father gazes down on him from above, silhouetted by a gold ground demarcating the unearthly realm of heaven. God holds an orb in his left hand, signifying his power over the world, and an arrow in his right. The arrow symbolizes justice but may also allude to the wrongful death of Uriah (the husband of David’s lover Bathsheba), which was orchestrated by David. The Master of the Houghton Miniatures, the name given to an anonymous artist whose greatest work resides in one manuscript at the Houghton Library at Harvard, An innovator, the Master of the Houghton Miniatures ushered in a new naturalism that was to characterize Ghent-Bruges illumination for nearly half a century. His sensitive draftsmanship renders David’s features and wispy curling hair with convincing detail while the elaborate buildings behind him recede deeply and dramatically into space. The miniature’s palate is muted and colors have shifted as a result of exposure to light. David’s voluminous robes, spread behind him in sharp folds as he kneels, were most likely originally a rich, bold, red rather than the muted yellow they appear today.


Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps