Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

David Foresees the Coming of Christ

Folio 26v

The medieval mind interpreted the Old Testament, and especially David's prayers, as a prefigurafion of the coming of Christ.
Here the Limbourgs have represented David as an oriental sovereign with a full white beard, long hair, and a tall cap with a crown. Leaning on his harp, he points to the Child which appears in the air.
Two musicians, clad and coiffed in an Eastern manner, kneel at his feet; one plays the viol, the other the lute. Below the miniature we can read, "David Christum venientem nunciat populum convocans" ("David summons the people and announces the coming of Christ").
This folio is particularly important because of the marginal decoration, which is at different stages of completion and demonstrates the illuminators' method of work.
The Limbourgs first executed the miniature in its entirety. They then turned to the marginal decoration, which they proceeded to sketch lightly, as exemplified by the bird perched on the foliage and the vase and iris at the bottom of the page. Over this sketch they sparingly applied the first pure colors, creating an initial relief through which the drawn lines remain visible.
Another clue to the way in which work progressed is the ornamental U which begins the text. Within this capital letter appears a head, such as those often seen in Italian manuscripts. It was executed not by the Limbourgs but by Jean Colombe, seventy years later.

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