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Initial B, with David playing the lute

  • Object:

    Manuscript cutting

  • Place of origin:

    Verona (city) (illuminated)

  • Date:

    1480-1490 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Libri, Girolamo dai, born 1474 (illuminator)
    Libri, Francesco dai (illuminator)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tempera on parchment

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by D. M. Currie.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 78, box A

In Italy illuminated choirbooks and liturgical manuscripts contain the work of large numbers of miniature painters. Some individuals can be identified. This cutting is attributed to Girolamo dai Libri of Verona. It shows King David, one of the great heroes of the Old Testament, reclining on a rich carpet and playing a stringed instrument. King David was a musician and was traditionally believed to be the author of the Psalms.

Physical description

An illuminated Initial B with a scene of King David playing the lute

Place of Origin

Verona (city) (illuminated)


1480-1490 (illuminated)


Libri, Girolamo dai, born 1474 (illuminator)
Libri, Francesco dai (illuminator)

Materials and Techniques

Tempera on parchment


Height: 275 mm, Width: 270 mm

Object history note

Bequeathed by David M. Currie in 1921.

Attributed to Francesco dai Libri in the 2006 exh.catal. Mantegna e le Arti a Verona.1450-1500, pp. 359-360.

Historical context note

Mantegna e le Arti a Verona. 1450-1500, ed. by S. Marinelli, and P. Marini, Venice 2006, pp. 359-360: first page of a choir psalter, incipit of the psalm I 'Beatus vir'. Probably the main decoration of a large choir book.

Data taken from notes compiled by Rowan Watson. The full text of the entry is as follows:

' E.1168-1921
Cut-out historiated initial B (Davis harping, on an oriental carpet, with attendants, monkey on a ball and chain, and a dog, painted by Girolamo dai Libri). The letter-shape is made up of triton grasping a dragon coiled into the letter B. Possibly the miniature in a psalter for which Cirolanodai Libri was paid on October 7, 1502, by S. Maria in Organo (Levi d.Ancona, 1969, p. 21)

Italy (Verona?) 1502?
(275 x 270) mm.

David Currie Bequest, 1921
Pub: 1923 cat, 90; Levi d'Ancona, 1969, 16-26; Levi d'Ancona, Wildensten Coll., 1970, pp. 70, 74'

Descriptive line

An illuminated cutting from a choir book, Initial B, with David playing the lute

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

no.110, pp. 359-360
Marinelli, Sergio and Marini, Paola, eds., Mantegna e le arti a Verona, 1450-1500, Venezia : Marsilio, 2006
The Painted Page. Italian Renaissance Book Illumination. 1450-1550, ed. by J.J.G.Alexander, Munchen, 1994: attributed to Girolamo dai Libri



Subjects depicted

Dog; Monkey (animal)


Christianity; Clothing; Manuscripts; Musical instruments; Manuscript cutting; Medieval and renaissance


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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