Speculum humanae salvationis (Mirror of Human Salvation)


The Mirror of Human Salvation was composed in northern Italy but enjoyed its widest dissemination north of the Alps. Juxtaposing scenes from the New Testament with Old Testament prefigurations, the images offer a lesson in the shape of sacred history and the nature of memory and meditation. In the first image, Mary mourns under the cross, surrounded by events on which she, as a model for the viewer, reflects. Her pose is echoed in the three prefigurations that follow: Anna is perturbed by the absence of her son, as was Mary when she could not find Jesus. The woman from the parable of the lost coin likewise stands for Mary’s loss of her son. Finally, Saul forces his daughter Michal to marry Phalti when David goes into hiding.

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Speculum humanae salvationis (Mirror of Human Salvation), in Latin
Germany, Franconia (Nuremberg?), ca. 1350–1400
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.140, fols. 37v–38r
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1902