David's search for harmony- 'The Rutland Psalter'

August 16, 2017

This mid-13th century psalter's first full-page illustration opens with King David's eyes fixed on me, the viewer. As if he was about to tell me something very important, he stares and at the same time I notice that his attention is in the act of listening: he is tuning his harp, David's harp. Around him, the scene is not that intimate. Angels fall, men engage in fight while being threatened by wild beasts.

Bellow: "beatus vir qui non habiit..." or Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked... from Psalm 1.

 

David, is trying to 'tune' the world and through harmony, to bring justice.

 

In contrast, the wicked world fills the margins of the psalter. A bishop talks to the congregation like a fox deceiving hens; people and animals wrestle, men and women fight and hybrids play loud musical instruments. 

Interspersed between these scenes, King David reappears to reestablish harmony. Moving his hands along the large keys of a monumental organ, he is accompanied by a carillon, a mythical organistrum and a heavenly choir of angels. 

 

 BL, Additional MS 62925, (England, ca. 1260)

 

 

 

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