A delicate meditation on permanence and mortality, Damien Hirst’s Psalm 85: Benedixisti, Domine was created as part of the artist’s Psalm series, 2008. Against a blue background, a kaleidoscope of butterflies swirls beguilingly, their wings opened to reveal iridescent patterns. Titled after Psalm 85 of the Old Testament, a paean to truth and mercy, the work is part of Hirst’s series which was inspired by a found Victorian tea tray, elegantly adorned with symmetrical butterfly patterns. For Hirst, the butterfly has long been an icon imbued with fragile beauty and he infamously turned to the creatures in 1991 for his exhibition In and Out of Love which embodied ‘love and realism, dreams, ideals, symbols, life and death’ (D. Hirst quoted in ‘Damien Hirst & Sophie Calle’, exh. cat., Internal Affairs, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1991). A similar sense of a divine mysticism suffuses Psalm 85: Benedixisti, Domine, whose circular geometry mirrors the form of the Rose window, the circular stained glass principally used in France’s Gothic churches. Like the meticulous tracery and multicoloured panels of those windows, the effect of Hirst’s butterflies, writes Michael Bracewell, is similarly ‘museological and poetic: the sense of a tiny life arrested, and of a transient, short lived beauty’ (M. Bracewell, ‘Requiem’ in D. Hirst, Requiem I, exh. cat., PinchukArtCentre, Kiev 2009, p. 23). It is characteristic of Hirst to work with such a precarious and potent medium. Replete with lyricism and a sublime awe, the butterflies are both the image and subject of Psalm 85: Benedixisti, Domine.