Written around 1215–16, The Italian Guest is the sole surviving poem by Thomasin von Zerclaere, a canon at the court of the German-speaking patriarch of Aquileia in Friuli (northern Italy). The work seeks to educate noblemen in the rules and norms of courtly love, chivalry, ethics, rulership, and good manners. The illustrations constitute a critical part of the work’s didactic program and enhanced its appeal to lay readers. At left, personifications of vices rob a nobleman of his clothing. At right, Justice, Nobility, and Courtliness join hands in a circle; a second miniature shows the winners and loser of backgammon, a critique of gambling. This copy was commissioned by Kuno von Falkenstein (1320–1388), archbishop elector of the imperial city of Trier.
Plan your visit. 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016.