Initial T: Saint Louis of Toulouse
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Franco dei Russi
Italian, Ferrara, about 1453 - 1463
Tempera, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
28 3/4 x 21 in.

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The imposing figure of Saint Louis of Toulouse, and the horizontal band of curling leaves that extend above his head, form the shape of this initial T. Louis was the son of Charles II of Anjou, King of Naples (1288-1309), and educated by Franciscan friars, eventually joining their order. Saint Louis is shown here wearing a miter and holding a crozier (bishop's hat and staff), symbols of his appointment as bishop of Toulouse in 1296, along with the brown, hooded robe of a Franciscan friar, and a red cape covered with gold fleurs-de-lis, symbols of the French royal family. This leaf belonged to an antiphonal from a famous series of choir books commissioned by Cardinal Bessarion (about 1399/1408-1472), a papal representative in Bologna between 1450 and 1455. This volume also displayed the coat of arms of Borso d'Este, the first Duke of Ferrara, and a major patron of the arts in that city in the mid-1400s.