Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lydgate: Man's Lot in Life

A few of my favorite illustrations from Lydgate... just because.

The Life of Man

The Death of Man

The Fall of Princes
Examples of Famous Men - De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

On page 7 there is a large composite full-page miniature, in English style characteristic of the period, divided into twelve compartments, in which are represented: (1) Adam and Eve tempted by the Serpent and driven from Paradise; (2) Nimrod, and his lower tumbling down; (3) Noah; (4) A crowned knight in plate-armour and a tabard slaying another knight, also in plate-armour, with a halberd. The second knight wears an oriental crown and defends himself with a curved sword. Perhaps intended to represent Ninus and Zoroaster; (5) Athamas breaking Learchus' bones on a rock, and Ino and her other son falling backwards into the sea; (6) Erysichthon, crowned, in blue, with bare legs. One of his legs is cut off and he is eating it; (7) Jael hammering a nail into Sisera's forehead; (S) Althaea, crowned and in black, pierces herself with a sword; behind her an open chest, before her a blazing fire, into which she has cast the brand; (9) Hercules, bearded and wearing a belted coat, with an uprooted tree in his right hand and a large bone in his mouth. Other bones are lying in the background, where he has thrown them (comp. I. 5496 ff.); (10) Narcissus, a. looking into a spring, with curb like a well, trying to embrace his reflection, and b. falling in headlong, with his legs sticking out; (11) Samson casting down the pillars of the temple; (12) Priam, about to be slain, praying before a statue of Apollo, which has horns like a devil. These pictures closely resemble those in MS. Harley 1766 in both feeling and technique, and if not by the same painter are certainly of the same school. (Fall of Princes, ed. Henry Bergen, 1923.)

Here is part of The Fall of Princes, with the great frontispiece.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, thank you for the great images and the description of the last one. I had not even recognized Narcissus :)