Book of Lovers

Ms. 388 - Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)

Alternate Titles:

Histoire d'Amour sans paroles, Buch der Liebenden, Histoire d'Amour sans paroles, Historia de amor sin palabras

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Alternate Titles

Histoire d'Amour sans paroles
Buch der Liebenden
Histoire d'Amour sans paroles
Historia de amor sin palabras

Extent / Format

30 pages / 20.2 x 13.4 cm

Beginning of the 16th century

episodes of a moving love story


Brosse family


15 full-page illustrations

Short description

Almost entirely without text, the carefree miniatures in the Book of Lovers tell a captivating love story from the 16th century. The 15 full-page depictions of the manuscript, commissioned in France by the Brosse family, allow the beholder to take part in the joyful scenes of dancing, romantic walks, and intimate embraces and in doing so gives a sweeping insight into courtly life at the time. Matching the miniatures with a painter has not been possible thus far, but its 16th century French origin is fairly certain.

Facsimile editions available


The Book of Lovers

The stirring Book of Lovers tells the story of the Historie d’Amour sans paroles with 15 splendid miniatures. The touching jewel from the late epoch of French illumination was commissioned by the Brosse family and its 30 pages give insight into the feelings and the courtly life of the time. Since the manuscript manages almost entirely without text, twelve gorgeous decorated pages with rich décor and symbols supplement the miniatures and additionally clarify the cycle.

A 16th Century Love Story

The artist, who unfortunately remains unknown, portrayed the love story in 15 episodes altogether, through which he allows the viewer to participate in the intimate relationship. Thus, there are joyful dance scenes, romantic walks through the woods, and intimate embraces. Together, all of the scenes describe the behavior of a couple and their mutual attention before the background of occidental Christianity in a fascinating way.

A Tale without Text

The most unusual characteristic of the delightful manuscript is probably that the artists strictly avoided the use of text. Except for two sentences in the page bordures and an enigmatic sequence of letters in one book, it manages completely without text and tells its story with pictures only. Nevertheless, the artists used other means to make the beholder aware of the special messages: they carefully chose the colors they used in order to create certain moods and designated plants and animals as representatives of certain characteristics or persons.

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