A unicum of illumination and a testimony to Bohemian book art: a travelogue illuminated with 28 demi-grisaille miniatures on green-colored parchment

Travels of Sir John of Mandeville

Bohemia (Czech Republic) — ca. 1410 - 1420

Travels of Sir John of Mandeville

Travels of Sir John of Mandeville

Bohemia (Czech Republic) — ca. 1410 - 1420

  1. The popular story was translated from French into Czech by Vavrinec of Brezová (ca. 1370 – ca. 1437) ca. 1410

  2. Aside from being an English knight, the true identity behind the pseudonym of Jean de Mandeville remains a mystery

  3. This is a fine testament to the artistic flowering that occurred in early-15th century Bohemia

Travels of Sir John of Mandeville

Alternative Titles:
  • I Viaggi di Sir John Mandeville
  • Los Viajes de Sir John Mandeville
  • Die Reisen des Ritters John Mandeville
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The The Travels of Sir Jean de Mandeville was one of the most popular texts of the Middle Ages. This manuscript from the British Library is a particularly fine specimen of early 15th century Bohemian illumination. It presents the story entirely in pictures: the events are depicted in 28 full-page miniatures without text – such is the narrative power and artistry of these images, each a fine specimen of the grisaille technique. An additional idiosyncrasy of the manuscript is its parchment, which was completely dyed green and thereby represents an absolute unicum.

Travels of Sir John Mandeville

An enchanting parchment manuscript with Gothic illumination from Bohemia originated during the first quarter of the 15th century. The knight John Mandeville’s 30-year-long adventure is illustrated by 28 full-page miniatures. These miniatures are unaccompanied by text, aside from a banner held by one of the figures in the miniature on f. 10, 'SPQR', and the image program is based on the Czech translation by Vavrinec of Brezová (ca. 1370 – ca. 1437), written c. 1410. This work of art originated from the hand of the so-called Master of the Mandeville Travels, known only by his name of convenience. An additional idiosyncrasy of the manuscript is its parchment, which was completely dyed green and thereby represents an absolute unicum.

Fascination with the Foreign

As fantastic as the The Travels of Sir Jean de Mandeville sounded, the account was just as successful. Whoever was really behind the mysterious pseudonym of Jean de Mandeville, who presented himself as an English knight, remains contested to this day. In any case, he came world famous as the author of a compiled travelogue written in French between 1357 and 1371 **. In doing so, he not only made use of his own, presumably realistic experiences, but also **numerous sources from historiography and literature, e.g. the Legenda Aurea by Jacobus de Voragine, the Rhabanus Maurus, or the Arthurian legend.

A Demi-Grisaille Masterpiece

Grisaille painting is a method that exclusively uses shades of grey or another neutral tone and is especially useful for depicting sculptures or as a model for engravers. Although seemingly less demanding than a full-color painting, the method can also serve to demonstrate the skill of a great master, or betray the hand of a less-talented assistant. Notable medieval practitioners include Jean Pucelle (ca. 1300-55), one of the greatest masters of 14th century France, whose Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux is an excellent example of the demi-grisaille technique that sparingly uses colors. The Master of the Mandeville Travels also makes sparing use of color, typically in the oft-patterned backgrounds or to emphasize important figures or objects. This allows him to focus on form and other details like facial expressions and garment folds, accounting for the surprisingly real and naturalistic aesthetic of these 28 miniatures. Furthermore, by utilizing parchment pages dyed with a delicate green, he was able to create a unique and refined work that can stand on its own without text.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
I Viaggi di Sir John Mandeville
Los Viajes de Sir John Mandeville
Die Reisen des Ritters John Mandeville
Size / Format
32 pages / 22.5 x 18.0 cm
Date
ca. 1410 - 1420
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
28 full-page miniatures

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Travels of Sir John of Mandeville“

Los Viajes de Sir John Mandeville
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Travels of Sir John of Mandeville – Add MS 24189 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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Los Viajes de Sir John Mandeville

Publisher
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2018
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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