Les Enluminures

6. Penitential Psalms and Litany

King David in Prayer
Followers of the Fastolf Master

The usual subject for the miniature marking the Penitential Psalms is the elderly David kneeling in prayer. Having committed adultery with Bathsheba and compounded this sin with murder by sending her husband Uriah to be killed in battle, David was chastised by the prophet Nathan and reprimanded by God. As seen here, David is usually shown isolated, alone in the landscape to which he withdrew in his penance. Often, he is in a kind of valley or trench, a reference to the cave to which he retired or, possibly, to the opening line of the sixth Penitential Psalm (129), “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee.”

The illuminators of this Horae might have been trained by or worked under the Fastolf Master (named after a manuscript he illuminated for Sir John Fastolf in Oxford (Bodl. Library, MS Laud, misc. 570). The manuscript is testimony to the vibrant industry that flowered in Rouen during the English occupation and thereafter.