Life of the Virgin Mary

ms. Leber 146 - Bibliothèque municipale (Rouen, France)

Alternate Titles:

La Vida de la Virgen María, Leben der Jungfrau Maria

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

La Vida de la Virgen María
Leben der Jungfrau Maria

Type
Extent / Format

46 pages / 32.2 x 25.0 cm

Origin
Date
1548
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

King Francis I

Artist / School

Madrid: Orbis Mediaevalis

Short description

A truly royal manuscript: the manuscript Leber 146 of the Bibliothéque municipal of Rouen with the title Vita Beatae Virginis Mariae. Originating from the year 1548 in France as a work by the master Jean Hubert, this manuscript is a quintessential work of the Renaissance. This marvel concerning the life of the Virgin Mary was created at the behest of no less than King Francois I of France. The 46 pages of the manuscript are illustrated all over with the most beautiful paintings, text cartouches, and grandiose full-page miniatures. The beholder is offered a true potpourri of painting in miniature format in an impressive 16th century artwork!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Life of the Virgin Mary

A truly royal manuscript: the manuscript Leber 146 of the Bibliothéque municipal of Rouen with the title Vita Beatae Virginis Mariae. Originating from the year 1548 in France as a work by the master Jean Hubert, this manuscript is a quintessential work of the Renaissance. This marvel concerning the life of the Virgin Mary was created at the behest of no less than King Francois I of France. The 46 pages of the manuscript are illustrated all over with the most beautiful paintings, text cartouches, and grandiose full-page miniatures. The beholder is offered a true potpourri of painting in miniature format in an impressive 16th century artwork!

A Commission of the Renaissance King

King Francois I (1494-1547), crowned King of France in 1515, was considered the first French king of the Renaissance. He was a gifted patron of the arts, and his reign brought about a flowering of art and culture in France. The splendid manuscript of the Life of the Virgin Mary is only one of countless testimonials to his passion for art. Various indications of the king are found everywhere in his book: the salamander in a halo of flame as his heraldic animal, the fleur-de-lis as the symbol of the French monarchy overall, and, inter alia, a miniature in which the book is ceremonially presented to him.

Text and Picture Wonderfully Combined

The artist contracted was Jean Hubert, a gifted painter of the French Renaissance. He completed the manuscript in the year 1548, so shortly after the death of Francois I. This can probably be ascribed to its lavish visual adornment, the complexity and mastery with which the miniatures were created. The 46 pages of the royal manuscript in the format of 32.2 x 25 cm are completely illustrated in beautiful Renaissance painting. The text is always found on the left page in a cartouche or a frame with lavish décor. Respectively on the opposite right page, there is always a full-page miniature with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, from her birth until her ascension and coronation.

Cherubs, Fruits, and Palaces

An exuberant world of painting unfolds against an artfully marbled background. Cherubs, flowers, fruits, architectural elements and other adorning accessories constitute the surroundings of the depictions. A variety of forms and powerful colors distinguish the paintings. The scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary are embedded in the environs of a Renaissance palace. The use of light in the miniatures is also noteworthy, e.g. the depiction of the birth of Christ. Complicated spatial and architectural compositions, as well as masterful garment folds and the bodies of the figures make it clear that the painting is thoroughly bound to its time: the Renaissance!

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