Leaf from a Schoolbook


This delicate drawing exemplifies the educational program of medieval monasticism. Personified liberal arts (branches of learning) descend from a magisterial figure of Philosophy. She is depicted as the queen of heaven, crowned and holding a scepter, flanked by personifications of the sun and moon and surrounded by stars and clouds, as if a celestial vision. Reminiscent of Pentecost imagery, seven streams flow from her breast, nourishing each of the liberal arts. The double-sided drawing marries principle to practice; whereas the arts are personified as women, on the reverse, their practitioners are presented as famous men.

Leaf from a Schoolbook, in Latin
Austria, Salzburg, ca. 1150–60
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.982
Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund, with special gifts of the Glazier Fund, Dr. Ruth Nanda Anshen, Mrs. Harold M. Landon, and Miss Julia P. Wightman, 1978