The J. Paul Getty Museum

Miroir Historial, 2 vols.

Object Details


Miroir Historial, 2 vols.



Vincent de Beauvais (French, about 1184/1194 - 1264)

and Jean de Vignay (French, about 1282/1285 - 1348)




Ghent, Belgium (Place Created)


about 1475


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment bound between wood boards covered with brown morocco

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XIII 5 (83.MP.148)

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Object Description

The Speculum maius is considered the masterwork of Vincent de Beauvais, a thirteenth-century monk. With almost ten thousand chapters and over three million words, this ambitious text attempts to give a universal summary of the world in three parts: nature, history, and the arts and sciences. The section concerning history, called the Mirror of History, for example, endeavors to provide a comprehensive history of the world from Creation until 1254.

Although Beauvais tried to compile a carefully organized and factually accurate summary of human knowledge, his history of mankind actually blends together biblical, mythical, and historical events. Nonetheless, the Speculum maius was a stunning achievement, and the text's popularity and influence in the Middle Ages is evident in its survival in a number of luxurious illuminated manuscripts. The Miroir historial (Mirror of History)is Jean de Vignay's French translation of the 1300s from the original Latin.

The Getty's copy of the Miroir historial dates to the 1400s and contains 132 miniatures by a number of different Flemish artists, but does not cover the entire period of history from Creation to 1254. Instead, the two-volume set ends with the death of the Virgin and an anthology of miracles she performed after her death.

about 1475

Commissioned by a member of the Lannoy d'Ameraucourt Family, by descent to Jean de Lannoy.
Source: Arms chequy or and azur, are emblazoned at the beginning of Books I and V (vol. I, f. I; vol. 2, f. Ib).

late 16th century

Jean de Lannoy, French, 1542 - 1603
Source: On the verso of the last leaf of vol. 2 is a note concerning Jehan de Lannoy, gentleman of the chamber to Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, his wife and children.


Possibly Henri I de Lorraine, French, 1550 - 1588

- 1888

William Horatio Crawford, British, 1812 - 1888

1888 - 1891

Estate of William Horatio Crawford, British, 1812 - 1888 [sold, Sotheby's, London, March 12, 1891, lot 3255, to Bernard Quaritch]

1891 - 1893

Bernard Quaritch, Ltd. [sold, No. 138: A Catalogue of Manuscripts Arranged in Chronological Order, Bernard Quaritch, London, December 1893, Lot 98, p 45, to Charles Fairfax Murray.]

1893 - 1906

Charles Fairfax Murray, 1849 - 1919, sold to C.W. Dyson Perrins, 1906.

1906 - 1960

Charles William Dyson Perrins, English, 1864 - 1958 [sold, Sotheby's, London, November 29, 1960, lot 134, to H.P. Kraus]

1960 -

Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988

- 1983

Dr. Peter Ludwig, German, 1925 - 1996 and Irene Ludwig, German, 1927 - 2010, sold to the J.Paul Getty Museum, 1983.


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Chavannes-Mazel, Claudine A. "Problems in Translation, Transcription and Iconography: The Miroir historial, Books 1-8." In Vincent de Beauvais ... . Monique Palmier-Foucart, et al., eds., 1988, Montreal (Paris and Vrin, 1990), pp. 361, 364.

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Steel, Karl. "Centaurs, Satyrs, and Cynocephali: Medieval Scholarly Teratology and the Question of the Human." In The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous. Asa Simon Mittman, Peter J. Dendel, eds. (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012), pp. xii, 260-61, fig. 11.1.

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Keene, Bryan C. Gardens of the Renaissance (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), pp. 28-29, ill.

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Keene, Bryan C., and Alexandra Kaczenski. Sacred Landscapes: Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017), pp. 41-42, fig. 25.

Keene, Bryan C., and Morgan Conger. "Sentieri per il Paradiso: Percorsi Spirituali tra Europa e India." Alumina 60 (2018), pp. 50-7, p. 52.

Russakoff, Anna D. Imagining the Miraculous: Miraculous Images of the Virgin Mary in French Illuminated Manuscripts, Ca. 1250-ca. 1450. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2019, pp. 76-77.