St. Anne Instructing the Virgin
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
126 x 80 mm
The Pierpont Morgan Library, Purchased in 1905
MS M.50 (fol. 13)
This prayer book was commissioned by Anne de Bretagne, wife of two successive kings of France, Charles VIII and Louis XII, to teach her son, the dauphin Charles-Orland (1492–1495), his catechism. It was painted in Tours by Jean Poyer, an artist documented as working for the queen. The book is richly illustrated, and its thirty-four airy, light-flooded miniatures are among the most delicate examples of late-fifteenth-century art.
St. Anne Instructing the Virgin (fol. 13, right)
St. Anne points to a place in the book held by her daughter, the young Virgin Mary, while Anne's other daughters eagerly await instruction in the background.
Anne de Bretagne's attachment to her patron and namesake is reflected in the priority she gives to the saint in the sequence of fourteen Suffrages, or prayers dedicated to saints, of which St. Anne's is the first.
The saint's pedagogical role mirrored Anne's intention to use this book as an instructional manual for her young son, Charles-Orland.
Poyer portrays St. Anne in the Hours of Henry VIII.