The Dauphin, Charles-Orland, at Prayer
126 x 80 mm
The Pierpont Morgan Library, Purchased in 1905
MS M.50 (fol. 31r)
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.
The Dauphin, Charles-Orland, at Prayer (fol. 31, right)
Poyer's final illumination for the Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne depicts Charles-Orland, firstborn son of the queen and King Charles VIII, kneeling at prayer. The dauphin began his religious education on his mother's knee before his third birthday. Anne assumed the little prince would take some time learning all the book's prayers, for Charles-Orland is depicted at about the age of twelve.
Behind Charles-Orland is an empty throne, and it is for the wisdom with which to occupy this throne that the young prince prays.
The unfortunate prince Charles-Orland died just after his third birthday, so he never got to learn this prayer Anne had composed specially for him.