A Priceless Gift: Book-Giving in Late Medieval French Manuscript Illumination

By Monica Ann Walker Vadillo.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Book-giving was a standardized ritual in which visibility was of prime importance. These images usually involved an artist or the commissioner of the work who present the newly made manuscript to the king, the queen or a noble. There are even images of a husband presenting her wife the gift of a book. This ceremony can take place in a number of places: the throne room, the king’s or queen’s personal quarters, a common house. These spaces are sometimes public and sometimes private, but all of them have a thing in common: the desire to show publicly the ritual of book-giving. This ritual brings about questions of social relations and of gender. There are differences between the male dominated public space, and the female dominated private space that appears in some of the illuminated manuscripts that represent book-giving. These spaces will determine the way in which the ritual of book-giving is going to be represented. It is important to acknowledge that this ritual was a way to commemorate the importance of the gift. The creation of a manuscript involved a large amount of economic resources and it was a time consuming production with dozens of people involved in the creative process. The book was a very appreciated gift. They were considered little jewels in the collections of royalty, nobility and laity alike. The Duke of Berry had hundreds of manuscripts catalogued in his personal library, many of which were gifts.

Keywords: Manuscripts Illumination, Gook-Giving, France, Late Medieval

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.81-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 702.405KB).

Monica Ann Walker Vadillo

Ph.D. Candidate, Instituto de Ciencias de las Religiones, Departamento de Historia del Arte I (Medieval), Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Torres de la Alameda, Madrid, Spain

Monica A. Walker Vadillo is a Ph.D. candidate at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She currently holds a B.A. and a M.A. in Art History, especializing in Medieval Art History, from the University of Florida and a M.A. in Medieval Studies from the Central European University (Budapest). She is interested in medieval manuscript illumination created in Spain and France. She is currently working on a book, to be published in 2008, titled Bathsheba in Late Medieval French Manuscript Illumination: Innocent Object of Desire or Agent of Sin?

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