Ferrara, 1470, 14 1/2 x 10 1/8 in. (36.8 x 25.7 cm), MS. Canon. Lit. 383, fol. 215r

Floral decoration of the kind seen here and in the Hebrew Pentateuch (MS. Canon. Or. 62) is typical of a Ferrara school of illumination. The historiated initial E (a letter containing a scene or figures) illustrates the text of 1 Kings 1–4: King David was so cold in his old age that young Abishag was procured to keep him warm, “but the king knew her not.” This Latin prayer book was intended for clerical and monastic use.


  1. Elisabeth Payne Rosen

    This is all stunningly beautiful! I have long known of the connection between Hebrew and Celtic manuscript illustrations (see Sounds of the Eternal, A Celtic Psalter, by J. Philip Newell) but this is all new.

    One question: is there some way, via the little “magnifying glass” icon, that one can hover over an image and enlarge it? I can’t seem to make it work.

    Thank you for such a beautiful website! When I saw the article in the NY TImes I was so jealous that I couldn’t be in NY, but honestly, this is pretty close (if you live in California.)