4 June 2003
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
THE PELICAN REVIVING HIS CHICKS and THE STORK BEING FED BY ITS YOUNG, two miniatures cut from a copy of the Bestiaire d'Amour by Richard de Fournival (1201-c.1260), in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern France, probably Paris, mid-13th century]
38 x 95mm. a) A crested white bird and its three young stand between two trees, one of the chicks feeds from its parent's breast, they stand on the edge of the ink-ruled border against a blue background; b) between two branching trees a large white bird with a black tail is being fed by its chick, they stand on the edge of the ink-ruled border against a pale pink ground; the versos of both with five lines of text in French written in dark brown ink in a gothic bookhand (some smudging, creasing and loss of pigment, text on versos partly obscured by pasted paper). Cut-to-shape and framed together.
These appealing miniatures come from a copy of the Bestiaire d'amour, Richard de Fournival's reworking of the traditional accounts of animal behaviour into a courtly address: where once the legendary actions and habits of the birds and beasts had been used as religious parables they here serve as metaphors on the nature of love and lovers: see J. Beer, Richard de Fournival's Bestiaire d'amour and the Response, 2003.
The copy from which these miniatures came must have been so similar to the manuscript owned by Antiquariat Bibermühle (Leuchtendes Mittelalter, n.s., III (1992), no 1 and Sotheby's 3 December 2002, lot 2) as to be localisable to the same place and date. That manuscript was described as the oldest extant copy of the text and the only surviving copy datable to the author's lifetime.
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