[ Click on the above image for a full screen view ]
Shown in half-length is King David. He holds a scroll in his left hand and points to the scroll with his right hand. He is clothed in royal vestments, including a crown. His body position - i.e. turned to his left – tells us that this panel originally belonged to the prophet tier of a Russian iconostasis, and thus he would have been facing the iconography of the Virgin of the Sign (see cat. no. WW005 in this exhibition). The inscription on David's scroll is from Psalm 45: 'Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father's house' (45:10).
King David, the 'sweet singer of Israel' (2 Sam. 23:1), is one of the most important figures in the Old Testament. He is the father of King Solomon, who built the First Temple in Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE. Both a king and a prophet, the Gospel writers trace Jesus' genealogy back to David and call him the 'son of David' (see Matt. 1). Tradition ascribes to David the Psalms - which he is said to have composed on a harp - containing some of the most important religious poetry in world literature.
He is included in the Prophet Tier of the iconostasis as his psalms contain prophecies concerning the Messiah. Psalm 110 is the most frequently cited psalm in the New Testament, and Jesus uses it to convey his relationship with the Father: 'The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool."' (110:1)
The style of our icon can be compared with an icon of King David from the 17th century (fig. a) and one from the 18th century (fig. b), both of which were previously at the Temple Gallery. Similarities of style can also be detected in a half-length depiction of the Old Testament figure Job, also from the North of Russia, 17th century (fig.c). Our version was most likely painted sometime between the late 17th century and the early 18th century.