Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The King at Prayer

This lovely leaf by Jean Bourdichon (1498-99) was a page in the King's Book of Hours, is displayed at the Getty.
The depiction of the king in his parade armor probably celebrates his recent coronation in 1498, and reflects an official image of the new king. Louis is presented (from left to right) by a number of royal saints: Saint Michael,
the patron saint of the royal chivalric order; Saint Charlemagne, from whom the French kings traced their descent; Saint Louis of France, the king's namesake
and his forebear on the throne; and Saint Denis, the patron of the French royal household.

This miniature is part of the exhibit of French Manuscript Illumination of the Middle Ages, which is open until April 15th. I found this piece particularly beautiful on my visit because it is a depiction of power kneeling before the Lord of the Universe. It reminds me of Theodosius coming to St. Ambrose to receive his penance after a slaughter. It is no small thing for a ruler to recognize a higher authority.

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