St. Catherine Confounding the Doctors
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
The Pierpont Morgan Library, Purchased in 1905
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. Catherine Confounding the Doctors (fol. 19v, left)
St. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of learning and education, is shown using her wisdom to convert to Christianity fifty philosophers who were summoned to convince the saint of the error of her Christian ways.
Catherine is usually depicted with the instrument of her martyrdom, a spiked wheel on which she was to be stretched and torn. Poyer's unusual de- piction emphasizes the power of Christian learning.