MS M.1044, fols. 18v–19r

Download image: 
Gaston III Phœbus, Count of Foix

Livre de la chasse

Paris, France
ca. 1406–1407
381 x 290 mm

Bequest of Clara S. Peck, 1983

MS M. 1044
Page description: 

The Bear
Bears were generally afraid of humans, but when injured, because of their strong teeth and arms, could bite or maul them to death. Consequently Phoebus did not recommend that hunters attempt to kill a bear by themselves. (It is ironic that Phoebus died while washing his hands after an arduous bear hunt.) In the miniature, black and brown bears are engaged in various activities with each other or their cubs. One climbs a fruit tree, while a pair seems to illustrate Phoebus's observation that "when the bear has his way with the she bear, they do it like man and woman." He further added that the cubs were stillborn in March, after which their mother licked them into shape and life. Oppian, the second-century Cilician, had written that the female so lusted for continual mating that she brought forth her cubs as half-formed shapeless flesh, making it necessary for her to lick them into existence.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern