Medieval Life, Personages, Celtic Art, Calligraphy and Illuminated Manuscripts
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Posts from — April 2008

The Vatican Library – The Pope’s Library

Biography of the Popes, scribe was Bartolomeo San VitoSince the Pope is visiting, I thought I’d call attention to the Vatican Library Exhibit on the Library of Congress web site. It’s a very informative short history of Rome and the library with a gallery of book manuscripts including many that are illuminated. The history of the Vatican Library is a fascinating story and what book lover hasn’t imagined roaming those stacks and finding a long lost book? From the Library of Congress page:

The Vatican Library, in fact, became a center of the revival of classical culture known as the Renaissance. Its librarians were often distinguished scholars. Historians and philosophers, clerics and magicians visited the collections and borrowed books from them. By 1581, when the French writer Michel de Montaigne visited Rome, the treasures of the Vatican had become a mandatory stop on any well-informed traveller’s Roman itinerary. To his delight, Montaigne was shown ancient Roman and ancient Chinese manuscripts, the love letters of Henry VIII, and the classics of history and philosophy (many of which can be seen in this exhibition). Then, as now, the Vatican Library was one of the greatest in the Western world.

April 16, 2008   Comments Off on The Vatican Library – The Pope’s Library

“Illuminating the Medieval Hunt” at the Morgan

Gaston Phoebus (1331–1391),  Le Livre de la chasse , Paris, circa 1407

There is a unique and exciting opportunity for rare book lovers on view at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Their illuminated book, Gaston Phoebus (1331–1391), Le Livre de la chasse, Paris, circa 1407, has been unbound to aid in the creation of a facsimile and the individual leaves are on display from April 18 to August 10. From Antiques and the Arts:

The Morgan’s copy is thought to have been commissioned by Philip the Bold’s son, John the Fearless (1371–1419), who presumably inherited his father’s manuscript and had copies made. During the late Fifteenth Century, it was owned by King Ferdinand II of Aragón and Queen Isabella of Castile, who added to it their full-page coat of arms. Of the 46 known surviving copies of the manuscript, the Morgan’s is one of the two finest extant examples; the other, in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, was made at the same time and contains the same cycle of 87 miniatures.

Le Livre de la chasse is divided into four books — on gentle and wild beasts; on the nature of dogs and their care; on hunting in general and hunting with dogs; and on hunting with traps, snares and cross bow. Written in French, the work was enormously popular throughout Europe and England, where it was translated under the title Master of Game.

 Le Livre de la chasseThe manscript is richly decorated and the miniatures are unique windows to observed medieval life. The manuscript is from a famous court. This was a historically critical time of rapid cultural evolution following the black death of the previous century. If you are unable to make it to the Morgan to see this book, a large selection of images from another copy of this 15th century manuscript is available here.


April 2, 2008   Comments Off on “Illuminating the Medieval Hunt” at the Morgan