Monday, November 12, 2007

David doing Penance

Jean Fouquet or Jehan Fouquet (1420 - 1481)
Heures d'Étienne Chevalier, illustrated by Jean Fouquet
British Library, London
ADD. MS. 37 421

Jean Fouquet or Jehan Fouquet (1420 - 1481) was the most important French painter of the 15th century, a master of both panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature.

In this illustration, David, in an imaginary Kingdom, steps down his army, kneels and gives thanks, and seeks mercy.

His army is on the right hand side. The sky opens and God the Father appears in his Majesty, amongst his angels. A dead body lies near the area where the demons torment the lost souls.

The scene appears to illustrate the lines in Psalm 6, the first of seven penitential psalms. The title of this Psalm is, To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David.

" O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.

3 My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?

4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.

5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave ?

6 I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.

7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.

8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.

9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.

10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace."

Note. - Any commuter on Southern Region trains in the last fortnight especially around Sutton and West Croydon will perhaps be more atuned to the feeling behind this particular psalm.