31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts · Medieval Art and Architecture

The Roman de the Rose – Day Fifteen of Medieval Manuscripts

A miniature from an early-fourteenth century Roman de la Rose once belonging to Claude Gouffier de Boissy, duke of Roannais and now at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland. By Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meung [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Roman de la Rose is a thirteenth-century French poem concerning an allegorical love story between a young man and a rose. Began by French writer Guillaume de Lorris and finished after his death by Jean de Meun, the poem was very popular in medieval France and was the subject of many richly-illustrated manuscripts. The story and its rich symbolism are replete with subjects for illustrations. According to de Hamel’s book, there are over two hundred known manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose, many of noble or regal provenance, and several copies had more than one hundred miniature illustrations (de Hamel 150-152).

“Courtesy with a Knight; Idleness Opening the Door for the Lover”. Roman de la Rose. J. Paul Getty Museum (MS. Ludwig XV 7). C.1405, by unknown (illuminator, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Also, you should definitely take a look at a wonderful image from King Francois I of France’s luxurious copy of the Roman de la Rose. This manuscript, now at the Morgan Library in New York City, dates to 1525, which is a bit later than the other works I’ve featured thus far this month. However, this image of the chic Francois receiving the manuscript is too good not to show you guys. Be sure to read the Morgan’s description of the page and of the fashion statement it contains. Also check out the Roman de la Rose Digital Library by Johns Hopkins University and the Bibliotheque Nationale of France. You can read more about the history of the manuscript and look at notable examples from around the world.

Bibliotheque Nationale (MS. Fr. 25526 f.77v detail). A detail from a 14th-century Roman de la Rose, depicting husband and wife illustrators Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston. Photo from de Hamel 152.
Bibliotheque Nationale (MS. Fr. 25526 f.77v detail). A detail from a 14th-century Roman de la Rose, depicting husband and wife illustrators Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston. Photo from de Hamel 152.

Source: de Hamel, Christopher. A History of Illuminated Manuscripts. London & New York: Phaidon Press Limited, 1994.

3 thoughts on “The Roman de the Rose – Day Fifteen of Medieval Manuscripts

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