Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII.

Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII. David and Uriah, f. 108v

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David and Uriah, f. 108v

From the rich iconographic traditions current in Poyer’s time (sketched above), he chose the rarest as his subject for the Penitential Psalms. After committing adultery with Bathsheba and impregnating her, King David summoned to Jerusalem Uriah, her husband who had been away serving in the army under Joab. His scheme was that a conjugal visit home on the part of Uriah with his wife would conceal the king’s transgression. As the biblical account informs us, however, the pious Uriah would not sleep with his wife. Frustrated, David ordered Joab to place the uncooperative husband in the front line of battle, ensuring his death.

In the miniature, David has just handed his marching orders to an unsuspecting Uriah. The sinful king is decadently dressed in a voluminous gown lined with royal ermine. On his head is an extraordinary hat trimmed with dangling gold tassels. Deferentially kneeling before his king, Uriah holds the sealed order in his hand while his ready white horse waits in the background. To the left and behind David, a figure stands in the shadows engulfing the canopied bed where the king’s sin was consummated.

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum


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