King David kneels in prayer before God in this splendid Renaissance miniature, painted in a symphony of violet, blue, green, and gold. The style of the figures and the foliage decoration of this letter implies that the illuminator was familiar with work created for the humanistic courts in northern Italy, for example in Padua and Ferrara. The artist worked in the context of the manuscript painters who, between 1456 and 1461, executed what probably was the most luxurious and precious book of the time: the Bible of Borso d’Este of Ferrara. That famous book is regarded as the climax of humanistic manuscript illumination (now: Modena, Estense UL, ms V.G.12) and offers a reliable reference for our initial's date of origin. Yet, for the painter, a more direct parallel is found in the hand of the fourth master of Plutarch’s Vitae in Cesena (Biblioteca Malatestiana, S. XV, 2), a remarkably skilled illuminator who, together with five colleagues, illuminated the Plutarch manuscript between 1450 and 1460.
Read more about this artwork in our Spotlight.