The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
MS M.50 (fol. 8v–9r)
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 Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (fol. 9, right)
Christ, surrounded by the baskets containing remnants of miraculous food, raises his hands in prayer and his eyes toward heavenly rays. He thus gives thanks after the miracle has occurred and the food eaten; the miniature is a fitting illustration accompanying the prayer Grace after Meals.
Poyer shows the backs of the figures gathered around Christ, a device invented by the fourteenth-century Italian artist Giotto and embraced by Renaissance artists to indicate the three-dimensionality of the people and the vastness of the space they occupy.