The Apostle Matthias and the Prophet Ezekiel
The Supper at Emmaus
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. 7v–8r)
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 Apostle Matthias and the Prophet Ezekiel (fol. 7v, left)
Matthias reads from an open copy of the New Testament; Ezekiel points to the words on his scroll, Evigila(bunt) om(ne)s ali (All shall awake, others . . . ).
Matthias is always last among the Apostles because he was chosen from the seventy-two disciples to restore to twelve the number of the Apostles after Judas's betrayal and suicide.
Poyer employs the letters A, N, and E in regular patterns surrounding all the miniatures; the letters spell the first name of the patron, Anne de Bretagne.
The letters of the border are enmeshed within interlacing strands of the cordelière, a personal device of Anne's referring to the cords St. Francis of Assisi wrapped around his torso to remind him of those that had bound Christ.
The Supper at Emmaus (fol. 8, right)
The two disciples with Christ raise their hands in pious surprise and awe as they recognize their newly resurrected Savior after he has blessed, broken, and shared bread with them in the village of Emmaus.
Poyer's rendering of a prayerful moment before eating, a subject often painted on walls of monastic refectories in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, illustrates the prayer Grace before Meals accompanying this miniature.
The three figures wear pilgrim hats (although Christ and the disciple at the right have thrown theirs back on their shoulders) like that worn by the Apostle James the Major.