Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à César and Fait des Romains
In French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
with 78 miniatures by the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI and a collaborator
France, Paris, c. 1370-80
This remarkable manuscript of majestic dimensions and with sumptuous illumination narrating the history of mankind from the Creation through the Roman Empire was made either for King Charles V or a member of his royal court. It presents a collaboration between the “scribe of the king” Raoulet d’Orleans and two artists specially favored by the king, the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles VI and one of his close collaborators. This is the most richly illuminated copy of the Histoire ancienne in existence with illustrations found nowhere else in the manuscript tradition. Of dazzling provenance, beginning in the royal circle and ending most recently in The J. Paul Getty Museum, the present manuscript offers a rare opportunity to acquire a secular artistic work “created for someone highly placed in the French court.” How suitable these textual and pictorial examples must have been for those in the royal circle of the Valois kings eager to affirm their own illustrious lineage by underscoring their ties to heroes of antiquity.