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.
Lamentation (fol. 21v, left)
The dead Christ, removed from the empty cross in the background, lies in his pious mother's lap; the pair is flanked by John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene.
Poyer's composition accentuates the Virgin's sorrow at her son's bloody death and emphasizes her role as intercessor between humans and God.
The prayer accompanying this miniature is this book's only text in the vernacular, French, and was composed particularly for Anne de Bretagne. In the prayer Anne addresses the Virgin in a personal way, seeking protection from those who might harm her and from those who might usurp her possessions.