Miniature of King David in Shimmering Gold from the Burckhardt-Wildt Album
Type: Leaves & Fragments
Book of Hours Miniature Featuring David in Penance from the Burckhardt-Wildt Album. Single cutting on vellum. Northern France, ca. 1500: 112 mm x 85 mm. Remains of 20 lines. Decoration: half-page miniature of King David kneeling in penance, his hat and harp lying nearby. Behind him is a glorious palace with large towers, windows with Romanesque arching, and tile roofs picked out in liquid gold. Even more castles dominate a verdant background of rolling hills and blue skies. God the Father offers his blessing in the upper right-hand corner. The striking elements of this miniature include the careful rendering of David’s face and the use of liquid gold to paint his lavish robes. Text: the miniature of David introduced the Hours of the Holy Spirit, with the short hymns for Matins, Prime and Terce just below and, on the verso, the texts for Sext, None, Vespers and Compline (just two lines). Each of these Hours is introduced by a three-line initial in liquid gold on red grounds. Provenance: In the 1790s an art dealer named Peter Birmann assembled an album of 475 illuminations, which he sold to the Swiss ribbon merchant, Daniel Burckhardt-Wildt. This album of leaves and cuttings is the best known early convolute of manuscript constituents. It re-emerged in the early 1980s and was sold at Sotheby’s on 25 April 1983. Our fragment came from folio 10 of the album and represents lot 193j in the 1983 sale. Thence, collection of Alexander E. Vida of Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (d. 2018) and by descent. Condition: virtually immaculate, with bright shining gold. Some slight flaking to paint on the interior of David’s robes.