Angels Displaying the Crown of Thorns (fol. 30, right)
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.
Poyer's penultimate image offers an immediate and intimate encounter with a powerful symbol of Christ's Passion.
Anne de Bretagne was particularly devoted to the Crown of Thorns. King Louis IX of France had acquired the Crown of Thorns in 1239; he built the Ste.-Chapelle as a suitable church in which to house it and other relics. Anne de Bretagne, as queen, had particular and private access to the chapelle and its precious contents.