Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, il Guercino, King David, 1651

I began this blog at the end of 2011 so I thought it was about time I gave it a fresh appearance and made some minor enhancements to improve its functionality. The main thing you will notice is that recent posts will appear as a grid so you don’t have to scroll endlessly to find earlier posts. Stephanie joined this site last year as our Art Historian and will hopefully continue posting about biblical and religious art. I am also hoping to have more news soon about contributions from other writers.

By the way, the painting of King David includes an inscription (in Latin) from Psalm 86. At least, it’s numbered as 86 in the Greek and Latin versions of the Bible. In the Hebrew Bible it’s Psalm 87 and the text is from verse 3: “Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.” In the painting David is effortlessly holding the inscribed stone slab with one hand and what is apparently a sceptre in the other. My initial impression was that he is holding an extremely long pen, recently used in the ‘inscription’ (although one doesn’t inscribe stone with a pen!) However, I defer to the experts and accept that it’s a sceptre rather than a pen. On the subject of pens, I personally like to write using a fountain pen, or pens. I currently have three fountain pens on my desk, with different coloured inks, and I enjoy swapping between them as I write notes and then add additional ideas or make editorial changes using different colours. Rather than being envious of what I initially thought was David’s massive pen, I felt it would be extremely cumbersome to use. He appears to hold it as one would a pen, rather than a sceptre, so I’m inclined to think the artist has intentionally been ambiguous about it, suggestive of his roles as both king and poet. Perhaps our art historian will comment at some stage.