Wednesday, November 28, 2007

La Cité de Dieu

La Cité de Dieu (first volume)
St. Augustine
Paris, early fifteenth century.
Vellum, 339 leaves, 423 x 330 mm.
National Library of the Netherlands

This is a copy of the French translation of De Civitate Dei by St. Augustine.

The miniature reproduced here depicts God the Father, enthroned amidst the four doctors of the Church: top left St. Augustine, top right St. Gregory the Great, recognizable by his papal tiara, bottom left St. Ambrose, and bottom right St. Jerome, dressed as a cardinal with his attribute, the lion, at his feet.

The most important authors of Christianity have been depicted writing, with their writing sheets kept flat by red ribbons weighted with lead pellets.

The written sheets which St. Gregory has hung to dry on a line are famous among manuscript experts.

Framing the page is a magnificent, densely decorated border of green and pink leaves which, linked at the bottom by a true-to-nature rendering of hills with trees, gives the overall impression of a forest full of birds and playful hunting scenes.