De Natura Avium; De Pastoribus et Ovibus; Bestiarium; Mirabilia Mundi; Philosophia Mundi; On the Soul

Object Details

Title:

De Natura Avium; De Pastoribus et Ovibus; Bestiarium; Mirabilia Mundi; Philosophia Mundi; On the Soul

Artist/Maker:

Unknown
Hugo of Fouilloy (French, about 1110 - about 1173/1174)
and William of Conches (about 1080 - before 1154)

Culture:

Franco-Flemish

Place:

Thérouanne ?, France (formerly Flanders) (Place created)

Date:

1278 to 1299

Medium:

Tempera colors, pen and ink, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with paneled calf

Dimensions:

Leaf: 23.3 × 16.4 cm (9 3/16 × 6 7/16 in.)

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A bestiary is a collection of stories about animals, birds, fish, plants, and even stones, whose properties were interpreted as reflections of the divine order of God. During the 1200s, curiosity about the natural world was so prevalent that the illustrated bestiary reached the height of its popularity. In addition to the main text of the bestiary, this manuscript contains five other studies of the natural world: treatises on birds, astronomy, the relation of the soul to the body, and a remarkable series of seven full-page miniatures illustrating the exotic peoples believed to inhabit the world.

In the introduction, the author states, "What the mind of simple people would scarcely be able to capture with its mental eye, it can at least capture with its physical one." The "simple people" were beginning students at the monastery who could read Latin but for whom complex theological material was new and difficult. The lively and entertaining images found in this manuscript were intended to help readers remember the contents of the works.

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