The illuminated manuscripts of the "Légende dorée: Jean de Vignay's translation of Jacobus de Voragine's "Legenda aurea"
AuthorMaddocks, Hilary Elizabeth
AffiliationDepartment of Fine Arts
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsMaddocks, H. E. (1990). The illuminated manuscripts of the "Légende dorée: Jean de Vignay's translation of Jacobus de Voragine's "Legenda aurea". PhD thesis, Department of Fine Arts, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
The original thesis has been repaginated for the digital version.
© 1990 Dr. Hilary Elizabeth Maddocks
This thesis considers closely 28 illuminated manuscripts of Jean de Vignay’s translation of Jacobus de Voragine’s celebrated 13th-century compendium of saints’ lives, the Legenda aurea. Vignay’s translation, the Légende dorée, poses some particular problems for manuscript studies. The extant manuscripts can be seen to be accommodated by at least two major genres of medieval French illumination: the transition of vernacular, courtly literature and the tradition of devotional texts. The tension created by these two conventions can be reconciled if we regard the Légende dorée manuscripts as enjoying popularity with an elite and secular audience which was not interested in the text as much as it was interested in the illuminations, or more probably, in the status of owning an important scholarly illuminated work. In establishing appropriate genres for the manuscripts of the Légende dorée, the production of the books within the organised artistic workshop is explored. This has led to the conclusion that while in some cases compositions were freshly devised from the text of the Légende dorée, most illuminators relied heavily on standard workshop models and patterns. As well as attempting to place the manuscripts of the Légende dorée in the milieu of late medieval France and as well as seeking to explore the popularity – or at least the level of ownership – of this translation of a somewhat irrelevant and difficult philosophical work, the thesis also presents for the first time an annotated catalogue of all known manuscripts of the text. The catalogue lists the manuscripts according to the sigils ascribed by Richard Hamer, Christchurch College, University of Oxford and Vida Russell of Melbourne. The physical aspects, known provenance, decoration and subjects of the miniatures of the volumes are detailed. This is followed by a commentary dealing with the particular problems and challenges presented by the illumination and production of each manuscript. In some cases artists have been suggested for several previously unattributed manuscripts.
KeywordsJacobus de Voragine; Legenda aurea; Jean de Vignay; illumination of French and medieval books and manuscripts
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