Anglo‐Norman Martyrology: Picture Book of Madame Marie

NAF 16251 - Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)

Alternate Titles:

Martiriologe des Saints: Le livre d'images de Madame Marie, Martirologio Anglonormando: Libro de Imágenes de Madame Marie, Anglo-Normannisches Martyrologium: Bilderbuch der Madame Marie

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Martiriologe des Saints: Le livre d'images de Madame Marie
Martirologio Anglonormando: Libro de Imágenes de Madame Marie
Anglo-Normannisches Martyrologium: Bilderbuch der Madame Marie

Type
Extent / Format

220 pages / 18.0 x 12.8 cm

Origin
Date
1285-1290
Style
Genre
Patron

Mary of Rethel (1231 -1315)

Artist / School

Henry

Illustrations

88 full-page miniatures

Former owners

Philip the Bold
John the Fearless
Philip the Good

Short description

Sometime in the second half of the 13th century, an unbelievably impressive illustrated manuscript originated in Anglo-Norman Westminster. The Anglo‐Norman Martyrology contains 85 full-page miniatures, which realistically and unsparingly depict the agonies of famous saints and martyrs in scene. The unique manuscript has been in the possession of the dukes of Burgundy since the early 15th century, and was first mentioned in the inventory of Philip the Bold.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Anglo‐Norman Martyrology: Picture Book of Madame Marie

The manuscript at hand is a medieval picture book par excellence. The martyrology contains 85 full-page miniatures with short inscriptions underneath the pictures within its 110 pages. Based on this, historians assume that the work was a book of hours. It contains the typical components of a book of hours, e.g. a calendar and illustrations of the martyrdom of the saints. Having said that, this private devotional book is missing the tables for the canonical hours and the specific liturgical prayers. The Anglo‐Norman Martyrology occupies a unique position in the history of literature.

An Interesting Provenance

The so-called Picture Book of Madame Marie is first recorded in the inventory of the Burgundian Duke Philip the Bold in the year 1405. He bequeathed this manuscript to his son John the Fearless. In the year 1467, the precious manuscript found itself in the possession of Philip the Good. The codex probably already originated in the second half of the 13th century. The images of the gothic masterpiece are indicative of the style of the Anglo-Norman illumination from Westminster. The original title of the picture book was The First Apocalypse from Westminster. The artist responsible for the work has never been determined.

Dramatic Scenes

The expressive, colorful images of the work present richly detailed scenes of gothic painting to the beholder. The characteristic personality traits, social status, or historical attributes of people were illustrated. The agonies, which the saints and martyrs of the legends had to suffer, were expressed unsparingly here. For example, a miniature shows a naked man being roasted on a grill. Another scene shows a person strapped to a tree, their body pierced with arrows. The book stages well-known legends of martyrdom with unvarnished realism – blood, broken bones, severed heads, and disemboweled bodies – with an excellent use of line and intense colors. Such imagery requires no long texts for explanation.

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