Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Life of Blessed Gerard of Villamagna

This unusual picture book contains thirty-eight full-page illuminations by the Florentine illuminator Pacino di Bonaguida (ca. 1280-1340) and his workshop. The pictures include two from the Old Testament, thirty-two from the life of Christ, and four from the life of Blessed Gerard of Villamagna. The images contain some unusual iconography. On folio 12, for example, Christ climbs a ladder to his cross—indicative of his willingness to sacrifice his life for humankind. Folio 19v shows the funeral of Blessed Gerard: guards were needed to keep order, so many were those who came to see his body, and his coffin had to be positioned in a tree!

Italy, Florence, ca. 1320
MS M.643, purchased by J.P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), in 1919