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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Scenes from the Life of Christ

Scenes from the Life of Christ
Leaf from the Hungarian Anjou Legendary
Illuminated by the Hungarian Master and his workshop for a Hungarian patron
Italy, Bologna?, ca. 1325–35
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.360.10
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

The Hungarian Anjou Legendary was one of the most lavishly illuminated manuscripts of its time. Nearly 550 scenes have survived, but there may have been about a third more. The Legendary contains the stories (lives) of Christ, the Virgin, and saints, arranged according to church hierarchy, placing the female saints last. Each folio originally contained four compartments with numbered scenes and Latin inscriptions.

The presence of Hungarian and Anjou saints has led to the suggestion that the Legendary was commissioned by Charles Robert of Anjou, king of Hungary. The Hungarian Master, an Italian active in Bologna, was so named because his two most important works were made for Hungarians. His style has much in common with the Master of 1328, with whom he may have worked and trained.

The complete manuscript apparently was owned by Giovanni Battista Saluzzo (1579–1642) in 1630, when he cut many of the quadripartite miniatures into four scenes, mounting them, one per page, in a small album. He did not cut up all of the leaves, however, and 106 of them are, with their original inscriptions, in the Vatican Library (Lat. 8541).

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.