Life of the Virgin Mary

Life of the Virgin Mary Facsimile Edition

France — 1548

Created for King François I of France: the veneration of the Blessed Virgin in large and splendid Renaissance miniatures

  1. This manuscript, a quintessential work of the Renaissance, was created by the master Jean Hubert

  2. Created at the behest of no less than King François I of France (1494–1547), the rich illumination is fit for a king

  3. The text is always found on the left page and the respective full-page miniature on the right

Life of the Virgin Mary

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
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!

Life of the Virgin Mary

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!


Alternative Titles
La Vida de la Virgen María
Leben der Jungfrau Maria
Size / Format
46 pages / 32.2 × 25.0 cm
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Life of the Virgin Mary – ms. Leber 146 – Bibliothèque municipale (Rouen, France) Facsimile Edition
Orbis Mediaevalis – Madrid, 2012
Limited Edition: 595 copies
Detail Picture

Life of the Virgin Mary

The Carpenter’s Son

According to the Gospels, Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter like his father, Joseph, and as such would have begun apprenticing at a young age to learn the family trade. This gorgeous miniature shows Jesus, highlighted with gold, helping his father as his mother sews in the background. Wood shavings are shown flying through the air as Joseph shapes a beam with an axe. Various medieval carpenter’s tools are clearly depicted to the right including an axe, saw, plane, auger, and hammer.

La Vida de la Virgen María
Single Page

Life of the Virgin Mary

Mary at the Temple

This splendid French Renaissance miniature shows the Virgin Mary flanked by her parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, on the steps of the temple in an unusual scene resembling neither the so-called “Presentation of Mary” (when she is consecrated to God as an infant) nor her marriage to Joseph. St. Anne pointing to two lambs at the foot of the stairs indicates this episode could follow the Annunciation.

Jean Hubert made an extraordinary attempt at perspective in this miniature, especially with regard to how the steps have been displayed, including the tunnel underneath. The rows of green columns for the classical architecture in the background further reveal the artist’s attention to detail. This is a masterpiece of color and composition.

La Vida de la Virgen María
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Vida de la Virgen María

Orbis Mediaevalis – Madrid, 2012

Publisher: Orbis Mediaevalis – Madrid, 2012
Limited Edition: 595 copies
Binding: Red leather embossed in gold Protected in a Solander box with the commentary volume
Commentary: 1 volume by Javier Docampo, Gregorio Solera Casero, and David Lopez Menaza
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Regular price without login (like new)2,980 
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