Song Book of Joan the Mad

Ms. IV 90 - Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)

Alternate Titles:

Cancionero de Juana la Loca, Liederbuch Johannas der Wahnsinnigen, Chansonnier de Jeanne la Folle, Canzoniere di Giovanna la Pazza, Cancioneiro de Joana a Louca

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Cancionero de Juana la Loca
Liederbuch Johannas der Wahnsinnigen
Chansonnier de Jeanne la Folle
Canzoniere di Giovanna la Pazza
Cancioneiro de Joana a Louca

Type
Extent / Format

60 pages / 11.0 x 9.0 cm

Origin
Date
1511
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Joan the Mad (1479 - 1555)

Artist / School

Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary
Master of the Dresden Prayerbook

Illustrations

56 miniatures illuminated in gold

Short description

The Song Book of Joanna I of Castile, with the byname of ‘the Mad’, belongs to the most beautiful manuscripts with Songs of the 16th century. It contains 60 pages of songs from various composers, with Latin, French, or Dutch text, which deal with many different themes, like love and yearning, betrayal and sadness, but also religious subjects. On every page, one finds next to the columns of notes of that songs, wonderful miniatures from Bruegge artist Alexander Bening, who lovingly illustrates each song. The valuable treasure of manuscript art is secured within its original binding of the Bruegger Book Binder Louis Bloc.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Song Book of Joan the Mad

The Song Book of Joanna I of Castile, with the byname of ‘the Mad’, belongs to the most beautiful manuscripts with Songs of the 16th century. It contains 60 pages of songs from various composers, with Latin, French, or Dutch text, which deal with many different themes, like love and yearning, betrayal and sadness, but also religious subjects. On every page, one finds next to the columns of notes of that songs, wonderful miniatures from Bruegge artist Alexander Bening, who lovingly illustrates each song. The valuable treasure of manuscript art is secured within its original binding of the Bruegger Book Binder Louis Bloc.

Moving Music of the Early 16th Century

Eyes full of tears and cooing romantic pairs populate the pages of the manuscript, but also sophisticated depictions of scenes of the passion of Christ. Luscious strawberries and blooming branches are also to be found. All of these various subjects serve as illustration to the songs of this valuable book belonging to Joanna the Mad. In the 60 pages of the small, landscape formatted manuscript are collections of songs from a multitude of composers; among them being, Josquin des Prés, Johannes Ockeghem, Alexander Agricola and Pierre de la Rue. They give an impressive view into the diverse music of the 16th century and are composed in three different languages: Latin, French, and Dutch. In terms of content, the songs deal with various themes like love, jealousy, need of money, but also biblical stories and the Passion of Christ.

An Important Patron

The patron of the Song Book was Joanna I of Castile (1479-1555), who carried the byname of ‘the Mad’. The Castilian Queen lived a fateful life, which even today is deeply impressive. She gave the contract of this small book to a Flemish book painter. This miniaturist from Bruegge was nothing less than Alexander Bening, the father of the great *Simon Bening**, who had crafted the famous Rosary Manuscript for Joanna. 'in the year 1511, the treasure was brought to completion. It contains 56 miniatures that are right or left of the songs. They consist from artful and realistic leave-work with fruits, flowers, insects, and figurative scenes with respect to the content of the songs. Alongside, wonderful and ascetically pleasing initials adorn the pages.

An Outright Treasure

Even the original received binding of the manuscript is impressive. It was finished by the Bruegge-based book binder, Louis Bloc, and it shows in leather stamps a frame with surrounding inscriptions, ornamental leaflets, and medallions with animal figures. As a complete work, it offers both music and painting. The impressive Song Book of Joanna the Mad is an insightful look into the music of the early 16th century and a treasure piece for any enthusiastic of illuminated manuscripts.

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