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Historiated Initial With King David And Goliath, In The Prayerbook Of Duke Humfrey Of Gloucester

Historiated Initial With King David And Goliath, In The Prayerbook Of Duke Humfrey Of Gloucester

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1440

Shelfmark: Royal MS 2 B.i

Item number: f.34v

Length: 24.3

Width: 15.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester (d. 1447) was the youngest brother of King Henry V (d.1422). He was a lover of books, and founded what subsequently became the Bodleian Library, Oxford. This manuscript was his own prayerbook, as shown by the inclusion of his heraldry, and by his ownership inscription on the final page. The text is similar to that of a psalter (having a calendar, psalms, litany, etc.), but is unusual because it contains only a selection of the 150 psalms. In the limited space available to the artist in this initial 'D' he has represented just the heads of King David and Goliath: Goliath is recognisable by the wound in the middle of his forehead, caused by a stone shot from David's sling-shot.

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