Initial B with King David in Prayer, ca. 1450
From a Benedictine psalter
Zanobi Strozzi (Italian, 1412–1468)
Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment; 5 5/8 x 5 3/8 in. (14.2 x 13.5 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.2470)
This miniature was excised from a lost psalter, or book of psalms, illuminated by Zanobi Strozzi for the Benedictine abbey of Florence. The initial B begins Psalm 1, "Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in via peccatorum non stetit et in cathedra pestilentiae non sedit" (Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers). This text is illustrated by King David, believed to be the author of the Psalms, kneeling in prayer with his eyes uplifted toward a vision of the hand of God blessing him. Lying nearby are his crown and psaltery. Outside the initial is an angel, and in the upper and lower left corners are the cropped figures of two Benedictine monks. In both figural style and composition, this illumination is closely indebted to Fra Angelico's work as a miniaturist during the same period.