For her personal meditation and the education of the Dauphin: the "little" prayer book of the Queen of France, Sicily, and Jerusalem

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

Tours (France) — 1492-1495

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

Tours (France) — 1492-1495

  1. Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514) was inter alia Queen of France, Sicily, and Jerusalem as well as Archduchess of Austria and a famous art patron

  2. This small prayer book was both for Anne’s personal use and for the education of her son, the Dauphin of France

  3. The creative and well thought out design of this gem of illumination's single pages still inspires today

Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

St. Anne Instructing the Virgin

The Virgin Mary’s own birth was miraculous – she was born to a woman named Anne who had long been childless and had given up hope before she conceived. The patron and namesake of Anne de Bretagne is shown instructing her daughter, the Virgin Mary, whose siblings wait in the background for their turn. This scene was intended to mirror the instructional nature of this prayer book, which doubled as a primer for her son Charles-Orland. It is a fine specimen from the masterful hand of Jean Poyer.

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

Alternative Titles:
  • Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne
  • Prayerbook of Anne de Bretagne
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Prayer Book of Anne of Bretagne, dedicated to the consort of two French Kings in a row and famous art patron and collector, is an extremely impressive example of a private manuscript. This small book was both for Anne’s personal use and also for the religious education of her son, the Dauphin of France. Next to the extremely rich ornamentation of the pictures, the creative and well thought out design of the text pages of this prayer book continues to inspire today.

The Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

The Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne, dedicated to the consort of two French Kings in a row and who was famous as an art patron and collector in her own right, is an extremely impressive example of a private manuscript. This small book was both for Anne’s personal use and also for the religious education of her son, the Dauphin of France. Next to the extremely rich ornamentation of the pictures, the creative and well thought out design of the single pages of this prayer book continues to inspire today.

Grandiose Monument of Motherly Love

Integrated in a series of well-established depictions straight out of holy hagiography and biblical scenes, 34 miniatures shine brightly throughout the prayer book with a special focus on the love-filled relationship between Anne and her son, the future King of France, King Charles VIII, Charles-Orland. Conspicuously, this played out in the picture of the lamentation of Christ with an inconsolable Mary in the center of the composition, or the selection of Margaret praying to God for the safe birth of her next child. More than half of the 62 pages of the book show fine miniatures with precious floral initials gilded throughout. Anne of Bretagne had also included a memorial to herself within the book; a miniature page shows her kneeling at a confession with a clergyman. The gilded borders surround velvet miniature scenes with short, descriptive texts, which is colorfully composed in a grid as well. In these innumerable small boxes are the three letters of her name inscribed: A, N, and E. Additionally, the creative involvement of the cord motif, her personal emblem, is continuously referred to in the frames. This exceptional concept derives from one of the most renowned illuminators of the time.

A Manuscript with High Artistic Value

The highly regarded miniaturist Jean Poyet, who was active at the courts of three French kings, was entrusted with the task of making this personal prayer book for Anne of Bretagne. He finished this gem of 15th century illumination sometime between the years 1492 and 1495 in Tours. The beginnings of the French Renaissance can be seen in the bright and airy landscapes and the extraordinary vitality of the figures with finely painted faces and bright clothing. Jean Poyet wanted to implement the grandiose developments of panel painting into his miniatures. New innovations in painting, like the unusual depiction of the Holy Trinity – instead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one can see three young men – testifies to the high artistic standards and value of the miniatures.

Informative Catechism for the French Dauphin

Anne of Britany used her Prayer Book mainly to teach her son, Charles-Orland, the basics of his religious education. The future King was to be made familiar with the most important prayers and biblical stories. However, the young prince was only three years old when he died in 1495. The gorgeous last few pages of the small book show him as an older man at prayer; an age he never attained. The prayer book went from Anne to her youngest daughter with Louis XII. She would also have a prayer book fashioned for her, which became known as the Petites Prières of Renée de France. The Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne remained in France up until the beginning of the 20th century. Then in 1905, it came the USA via the purchase by J.P. Morgan, where it is remains today. As a testimony to the personal beliefs of the two-time Queen of France, The Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne is of high historic rank. The maternal love for her son is best expressed in the numerous precious and artful miniatures.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne
Prayerbook of Anne de Bretagne
Size / Format
62 pages / 12.5 x 8.0 cm
Date
1492-1495
Language
Illustrations
34 full-page miniatures, all by a masterly hand and framed with large ornamental borders containing the letters A, N and E. Numerous coloured initials decorated with flowers, partly on gilded ground or interlaced with golden rinceaux on red or blue ground
Artist / School
Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne

Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

St. Hubert Worshiping the Miraculous Stag

After his wife died in childbirth, an 8th century nobleman named Hubert withdrew from court and lived in the woods were his only solace was hunting. While pursuing a magnificent stag on Good Friday, the animal stopped and looked at him. Hubert then had a vision of a crucifix floating between its antlers and the deer spoke to him, calling him to a godly life.

The deer is often used as a symbol of renewal in art because it sheds its antlers and is associated with Christ. Hubert kneels before the deer with his face covered, dressed in a tunic, thigh-high boots, and wearing black hunting horn with gold accents. This idyllic forest scene demonstrates Jean Poyer’s mastery of natural depictions and is accented with delicate pen strokes of gold ink.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne“

Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne – MS M.50 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
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Gebetbuch der Anne de Bretagne

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1999
Limited Edition
1980 copies
Binding
Burgundy red velvet in a protective case covered with scarlet leather. The decoration of the case corresponds in its entirety with the original of the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Commentary
1 volume (236 pages) by Roger S. Wieck and Michelle Hearne
Languages: English, German
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