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Studies and Texts (ST 215)
A. Russakoff
Imagining the Miraculous: Miraculous Images of the Virgin Mary in French Illuminated Manuscripts, ca. 1250–ca. 1450

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XVII+194 p., 94 b/w ill., 205 x 255 mm, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-88844-215-4
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 90,00 excl. tax
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This is not a book about miraculous images of the Virgin Mary (be they icons, sculptures, altarpieces, or reliquaries) but about their representations in French illuminated manuscripts from ca. 1250 to ca. 1450. Most of these depictions of the Virgin Mary cannot be identified even tangentially with particular surviving images (such as the Virgins of Rocamadour, Soissons, Chartres, and Laon). Rather, these illustrations point to the ubiquity of local miraculous Marian images in devotional practices from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century in French-speaking regions. This book analyzes depictions of material images and the animated miracles they perform, and traces their evolution from the earliest narratives of Marian miracles written in Old French to texts and images produced at the Burgundian court of the late Middle Ages.

Beginning with the most extensive compilation of Gautier de Coinci’s Miracles de Nostre Dame, the study then examines lesser-known anonymous works such as the Vie des Pères and encyclopedic collections including the French version of Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum historiale and the Ci nous dit, as well as a theatrical production of the Miracles de Nostre Dame par personnages, before concluding with the prose rendering of the Miracles by Jean Miélot.

Imagining the Miraculous explores the ways in which these works depict physical images, such as panel paintings and sculptures, on the manuscript page. Each chapter provides a detailed iconographical analysis of the miniatures and the diverse techniques of visual narrative they harness, serving also to show how attentive reading of their reception can help us understand how the miniatures themselves might have led viewers to imagine the miraculous moment when an image comes to life.

Interest Classification:
Book History, Manuscript Studies & Palaeography
Codicology
Illumination & illustration of books
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Christian devotion & forms of religious expression
Hagiographical writings & the cult of saints
Fine Arts & Performing Arts
Art History (general)
Medieval art history

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