Book of Hunting of Gaston III Phoebus

Ms. OP N.º 2 - The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Alternate Titles:

Libro de la Caza de Gastón III, Livre de la Chasse, Buch der Jagd

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Libro de la Caza de Gastón III
Livre de la Chasse
Buch der Jagd

Type
Extent / Format

224 pages / 33.0 x 23.0 cm

Origin
Date
End of the 14th century
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Author: Gaston III, Lord of Foix and Bearn

Illustrations

78 miniatures of large format and all pages with border designs of floral motifs and multiple capitals in gold

Short description

Gaston III, Count of Foix and also known by the epithet Phoebus, composed a work in the 14th century that made him unforgettable: the famous Livre de la chasse, the Book of Hunting. Dedicated to Philipp the Bold, it is concerned with the theme of courtly hunting and presents itself as a comprehensive textbook on the subject. A particularly beautiful illuminated manuscript of this Book of Hunting by Gaston III is stored in St. Petersburg. Originating from France at the end of the 14th century, this masterpiece of illumination amazes with magnificent miniatures in elegant frames. In this way, it offers a unique glimpse into the late 14th century!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Book of Hunting of Gaston III Phoebus

Gaston II, Count of Foix and also known by the epithet Phoebus, composed a work in the 14th century that made him unforgettable: the famous Livre de la chasse, the Book of Hunting. Dedicated to Philipp the Bold, it is concerned with the theme of courtly hunting and presents itself as a comprehensive textbook on the subject. A particularly beautiful illuminated manuscript of this Book of Hunting by Gaston III is stored in St. Petersburg. Originating from France at the end of the 14th century, this masterpiece of illumination amazes with magnificent miniatures in elegant frames. In this way, it offers a unique glimpse into the late 14th century!

The Hunt in the Middle Ages

A pack of hunting dogs dash through the forest, followed by lordly riders on noble steeds. A wild boar flounders in the hunter’s nets, and a bird of prey is prepared to help with the hunting of rabbits. All of these wonderful scenes play out in the illustrations of the Livre de la chasse by Gaston III also known as Gaston Phoebus. Gaston III (1331-1391), Count of Foix, was the author of this famous French treatise on hunting. He composed an exciting textbook of medieval hunting between the years 1387-1389. The hunt was a privilege of the rulers and noblemen for a long time and was presented in all its facets in the Book of Hunting.

A Noteworthy Edition

The Livre de la chasse by Gaston III survives in several manuscripts, some of them illustrated. These are found in the Parisian Bibliothèque Nationale and the Morgan Library in New York, inter alia. A particularly beautiful specimen can be found in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Manuscript OP N.º 2 of their manuscript collection arose in France at the end of the 14th century, and thus shortly after the creation of the text its self. The treatise on hunting, spanning 224 pages with an impressive format of 33 x 23 cm, is illustrated with 78 full-page miniatures.

A Marvelous Image of the 14th Century

A half-page miniature above or below the text accompanies each of the explanations about hunting. These scenes were surrounded by fine, ornamental frames. Delicate floral bordures and precious gold initials round out the splendid overall impression of the manuscript. The depictions present all aspects of the theme, which are addressed in the famous treatise. Gaston III’s textbook, which was dedicated to Philipp the Bold, contains natural scientific and biological information about wild game and gives some directions for the specific training of hunting dogs. In combination with its wonderful miniatures, the St. Petersburg manuscript of the Livre de la Chasse – one of the most beautiful examples of this tradition of hunting books – offers a magnificent glimpse into the 14th century!

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