4. Inside a bourgeois dwelling ...
The Virgin is seated on the ground as, a sign of humility,
has wrapped in a cloth the book he is reading,
as a sign of respect for the sacred texts.
The book on the table could symbolize the New Testament.
It is placed on a parchment, symbol of the Old Testament.
Robert Campin, and workshop, Atelier de
Annunciation Triptych, Mérode Altarpiece, central panel
Triptyque de l'Annonciation Triptyque de Mérode, panneau central
Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloister collection, New York
7. Angel Gabriel is holding a lily, a symbol the purity
and flawlessness of Virgin
Mary is seated intent on leafing through a book
An very realistic detail: the transparent veil that hangs
over the reading desk under the book of Scripture
in which Mary is reading.
Leonardo da Vinci
Galleria Uffizi, Florence
11. The angel, in his pink robe woven with gold,
has just arrived and surprises the Madonna
with the book still open, resting on his knees.
Seated on a pew crosses her hands over her
breasts in devout respect for the divine messenger.
Annunciation of Cortona
L'Annonciation de Cortone
Museo Diocesano di Cortona, Cortona
13. Odd and unusual Annunciation scene takes place in Mary's chamber:
Mary has been reading at a prie-dieu when God the Father burst in from
the loggia, stretching forth his hands as if sending down the dove
of the Holy Spirit;
Gabriel runs in from the door bearing a huge lily and drops suddenly
to one knee;
Mary turns toward us and opens her hands in wonder.
A cat scurries away in terror, casting a shadow on the floor.
(... an original and unrhetorical treatment)
Annonciation de Recanati
Museo Civico Villa Colloredo Mels, Recanati
15. six rabbis forming a circle in which
the central figure is that of the young Christ
Christ Among the Doctors
Jésus et les Docteurs
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
18. the Four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
facing an opened book placed on a table atop a pile of books …
The Four Evangelists
Les Quatre Évangélistes
Musée du Louvre, Paris
20. Saint Jerome, A great scholar and author, much of the Latin translation
of the Bible – known as the Vulgate
Saint Jerome lying prone under a rock shelter embraces a crucifix
with body of Christ,
eyes closed in concentration.
Surrounding him are some of his traditional attributes:
the scarlet broad-brimmed galero (hat) of a cardinal,
a small, smooth rock, with which he may have been beating himself
a closed book near his feet
Hieronymus Bosch Jérôme Bosch
Saint Jerome at Prayer
Saint Jérôme en prière
Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent
22. an ingenious architectural setting
the books of traditional scholarship in the mid fifteenth century.
The book St. Jerome is reading represents knowledge.
The books surrounding him refer to his translation of the Bible into Latin.
Antonello da Messina
St Jerome in His Study
Saint Jérôme dans son étude
National Gallery, London
25. skull, candle extinguished,
Christ on the cross, announcement of
the Last Judgment
Saint Jerome in front of a passage from
the Gospel of Matthew that he translated
after Marinus van Van Reymerswaele
d'après Marinus Van Reymerswaele
Saint Jerome in his study
Musée des Beaux Arts de Reims, Reims
27. A rather curious story ...
The devil was walking about the city holding a large book
which contained a list of all the sins of men.
The bishop asked to see the page concerning himself.
He saw there just one sin, that he had neglected to say his
Compline prayers [the Night Prayer].
"Hold my beer", - he said to Devil and ran to a church to complete
Back to Devil, Augustine asked him to check the book with his only sin
... the sin vanished
“You have shamefully deceived me" - said the Devil and disappeared
The Devil Presenting St. Augustine with the Book of Vices.
Altarpiece of the Church Fathers
Le diable présentant à saint Augustin le livre des vices.
Retable des Pères de l’Église
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
30. Estienne Chevalier, French Ambassador to England in 1445
and treasurer to Charles VII of France,
next to his patron saint, Stephen.
The saint, wearing a deacon's robe, is holding a book,
on which a jagged stone is lying, as a symbol of his martyrdom
(he was stoned to death)
Diptyque de Melun, Étienne Chevalier présenté par saint Étienne
Etienne Chevalier with St. Stephen
Melun Diptych, Estienne Chevalier with St Stephen
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
33. A popular saint in the Middle Ages, she was a Christian martyr believed
to have lived in the 3rd century.
The saint holds the Holy Scriptures with a cloth, as if she does not want
to touch them, as a sign of respect and humility.
The Werl Triptych, Right panel Saint Barbara
Triptyque de Werl, Panneau de droite Sainte Barbe
Museo del Prado, Madrid
35. absorbed in reading the book …
Mary holds a Book of Hours, the Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis,
prayer books for laymen common in the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.
Symbolizing the Passion of Christ, the Christ Child is holding
the three nails of the cross, and the crown of thorns.
Madonna of the Book (Madonna del Libro)
La Madone du livre
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan
37. Joris van der Paele kneeling and fully absorbed in the spiritual realm.
This notion is reinforced by his breviary and glasses which, although
they imply education, wealth and learning, also allude to fallibility
of the human, earthly senses.
Van Eyck does not shy from showing the physical effects
of the canon's illness, including worn, crevassed and tired skin, weak vision,
enlarged temporal arteries and swollen fingers.
The awkwardness with which van der Paele clutches his breviary suggests
weakness in his left arm; van de Paele probably suffered acute arm
and shoulder pain,
His condition has been diagnosed by modern doctors as possibly
polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis.
A lesion on the lower lip was diagnosed as a potentially malignant
Jan van Eyck
Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele
La Vierge au chanoine Van der Paele
40. A young lady in an extravagant green dress sits on the floor, reading.
She seems to be reading a Bible.
It is a luxurious volume: the fore-edges and clasps are gilded
and it is covered with a white chemise, a kind of book jacket
which was wrapped around special books to protect them.
Rogier van der Weyden
The Magdalen Reading
National Gallery, London
42. Standing with its hind legs in the water
and its forelegs on dry land,
one firmly resting on a rocky shore
and the other holding up the book with the traditional inscription.
According to legend, Saint Mark was travelling through Europe,
he arrived at the Venice lagoon, where an angel appeared to him
« Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum. »
Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist.
The Lion of St Mark
Le Lion de Saint-Marc
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
46. The Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli, mathematician
and student of proportions, demonstrating a theorem
by Euclid written in an open book.
The closed book, with the inscription LI.RI.LUC.BUR.
- Liber reverendi Luca Burgensis
is his Summary of arithmetic, geometry, proportions
and proportionality, dedicated to Guidobaldo.
Jacopo de' Barbari, attributed to, attribution
Portrait of Luca Pacioli
Portrait de Luca Pacioli
Capodimonte Museum, Naples
48. Dante with robe and crown of a poet.
His left hand is holding his Divine Comedy,
opened at the ‘Canto XXV’ of the Paradise.
The poet He protects the symbols of Florence
with his right hand, showing his belonging
to the terrestrial world.
His gaze, however, tends to the Garden of Eden
and to the purification of the soul.
Allegorical Portrait of Dante
Portrait allégorique de Dante
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
50. six distinguished Tuscan poets and writers ...
Cino da Pistoia, Guittone d’Arezzo,
Giovanni Boccaccio, Guido Cavalcanti,
Dante Alighieri holding open a book of Virgil
Francesco Petrarch who holds the green volume,
the book's cover decorated with a cameo portrait
of a woman in profile, likely Petrarch's muse Laura
Six Tuscan Poets
Six Poètes toscans
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis
53. The material world, the scales - money and greed
the spiritual and Christian world, Book of Hours - the Virgin and Child
On the left-hand page of this Book of Hours,
you can see a text whose initials depict a lamb,
a Christian symbol in The Book of Revelation
But the woman averts her gaze from the sacred book
allows herself to be absorbed by the scales,
as if attracted by gold;
material concerns are opposed to those of the soul.
Le prêteur et sa femme
The Money Changer and His Wife
Musée du Louvre, Paris
55. Divine inspiration ...
An book open on the desk,
is an astronomy and geography textbook.
On the opened page we can see a drawing of an astrolabe,
which was designed by astronomer Adriaen Metius.
The text on the adjacent page suggests that astronomers should seek
‘inspiration from God’.
Such divine inspiration perhaps resulted in Metius’ astrolabe design.
Musée du Louvre, Paris
58. A Florentine aristocrat, a humanist and a linguist
On the table a copy of Homer’s Iliad, in Greek, it is open
at the beginning of the ninth book, the Embassy to Achilles.
A second book, of which only a corner is visible to the left,
is inscribed MARO, indicating the Latin poet Publius Vergilius Maro
better known as Virgil.
Ugolino’s left arm is supported by a work by Pietro Bembo,
whose sonnets were written in the vernacular.
Portrait of Ugolino Martelli
Portrait d'Ugolino Martelli
Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Berlin
60. an educated and thoughtful lady ...
music scores, drawings and the national seal on the side table,
the latter a sign of political influence
an open book on your lap.
(The extinguished candle, the clock and the roses, however,
indicate the ephemeral nature of her situation.)
Portrait de Madame de Pompadour
Portrait of Madame Pompadour
Alte Pinakotek, Munich
62. The light comes from behind the old woman:
the brightest illumination falls on the book and her wrinkled hand,
Her face remains in shadow.
The old woman reading the Bible is the Prophetess Hannah.
She was present when Joseph and Mary brought their son Jesus
to the Temple, and she immediately recognized Jesus
as the long-awaited Messiah.
The letters in the sacred book appear to be Hebrew.
An Old Woman Reading, Probably the Prophetess Hannah
Une vieille femme lisant, probablement la prophétesse Hannah
65. An fashionable woman sitting in a meadow reading
Ephemeral details contribute to the informality
of the scene, from the discarded umbrella
and fan to the glints of sunlight on the dress.
Reading, portrait of Edma Morisot
Edma Morisot lisant, L'ombrelle verte
Museum of Art, Cleveland
68. a dusty old once-glorious library with its frescoed ceiling mirrors,
an elderly bibliophile nearsightedly reading in a book,
a second book in his right hand,
a third one under his arm,
a fourth between his knees
Le Rat de bibliothèque
Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt
71. books, book chest keys, a duster made from furry animal tails,
a still life of books that resembles a librarian?
a portrait of a librarian constructed of books?
a parody of greedy book collectors interested in collecting books
and not reading them?
an expression of the complicated intellectual world of the late 16th century?
this painting is believed to depict Wolfgang Lazius, a famous historiographer,
antiquarian, curator of the imperial collections of the Holy Roman Empire
and official historian to Emperor Ferdinand I.
74. Saint Anthony kneels before the cross of Christ.
The devil, who is behind the cross, is the one who has pushed Christ away
and replaced him with a woman.
De Continentia Josephi ...
On the prayer desk, we see Anthony’s reading: The Abstinence of Joseph.
The title on the page refers to the Old Testament story of Joseph
and Potiphar’s wife, which tells the incident where the wife of one
of the Pharaoh’s guards tried and failed to seduce Joseph.
La Tentation de saint Antoine
The Temptation of St Anthony
Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels
77. Educated viewers would have recognized
the titles of the books on the table …
De Heem warns
dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return –
however widely read you may be.
Jan Davidsz de Heem
Still Life with Books and a Violin
Nature morte aux livres avec violon
Mauritshuis, The Hague
The Book in Western paintings
Le livre dans la peinture occidentale
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Music The Piano Guys Story of My Life (One Direction – Piano Cello Cover)
thanks for watching
Merci M.C., merci Michel