David the Psalmist
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Oil on canvas
73 x 24 1/2 inches.
The triptych's central panel representing an Adoration of the Magi is flanked by two representations of David, that on the left showing him as a boy, sling in hand, this panel on the right as crowned king. As the artist explained in a letter to Charles Eliot Norton written in 1858 when his conception of the triptych was taking form, he intended to paint "the Nativity; for the side pieces to which I have David as Shepherd and David as King — the ancestor of Christ, embodying in his own person the shepherd and king who are seen worshipping in the Nativity."[July 1858; Letters, I, 338]. Creating the kind of complex play upon types that one encounters in the poetry of his sister Christina, Rossetti makes David prefigure both Christ and all men who will worship him.