TEXT FROM THE SUFFRAGES OF THE SAINTS
AN ILLUMINATED VELLUM MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH A SMALL MINIATURE OF JOACHIM AND SAINT ANNE MEETING AT THE GOLDEN GATE, FROM AN ENGAGING LITTLE BOOK OF HOURS IN LATIN
Price: 4,000.00 USD
Northern France [probably Paris]: ca. 1460s. 130 x 98 mm. (5 1/8 x 3 7/8"). Single column, 14 lines in a fine gothic book hand. Attractively matted. The text similarly decorated as in the previous entry, but with the panel border on the recto inhabited by a charming bird in brown and yellow, the verso WITH A TOUCHING MINIATURE (measuring 35 x 33 mm.) OF SAINT ANNE AND JOACHIM MEETING AT THE GOLDEN GATE in Jerusalem, the white-haired Joachim gently embracing his wife, the pair standing before an impressive gate of brushed gold, with the towers of the city visible over the gray stone wall. One tiny smudge in the margin, otherwise in very fine condition. The miniature here contains the very uncommon image of Saint Anne and Joachim at what legend suggests was a crucial moment in the family history of the Savior. The story of the two figures in our miniature first appeared in the second century apocryphal Gospel of James, in which Anne is said to be the mother of the Virgin Mary. As such, Anne became a personage of great interest, and the legend that grew up around her life--a legend given credence in Voragine's 13th century "Golden Legend"--is certainly curious. The growth of Marian devotion in the Middle Ages prompted the thorny theological question of whether the Mother of God was free of original sin, and the obvious desire to see such a condition accepted nourished the notion that the Virgin Mary was "immaculately conceived" and therefore sin-free from the beginning of her life. Her parents, Anne and Joachim, were bitterly disappointed at being childless, and both prayed to be blessed with offspring. Each was instructed by an archangel to meet the other at the Golden Gate at Jerusalem and promised that this would bring them a child. Legend has it that when the anxious pair met and fell into each other's arms, Mary was miraculously conceived without the stain of carnal contact. The scene was a popular subject in Medieval art, but is very rarely encountered in a Book of Hours. Our miniature has many delicately painted details, and the almost rapturous expression of the two figures--so appropriate for this charged moment--has been clearly communicated by the artist.