MS M.917/945, pp. 292–293

Download image: 

St. Anne with the Virgin and Child

The Netherlands, Utrecht
ca. 1440
7 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches (192 x 130 mm)

Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963

MS M.917/945, pp. 292–293

Wearing an old-fashioned wimple, the elderly Anne is enthroned with her daughter, Mary, who is seated at her feet holding baby Jesus. The page as a whole emphasizes genealogy: the three figures of the miniature are the ultimate flower of the vinelike Tree of Jesse that grows from that ancestor of the Savior sleeping in the bottom border. King David is shown at the left of Jesse and, at the right, what may be the lion of Judah. Twelve crowned heads represent Christ's subsequent royal ancestors.


Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern