Book of Love
A report reproduced from
Rene's Original Illuminated Manuscript
(Cod. Vind. 2597)
Belonging to the Austrian National Library in Vienna.
It is said that Rene taught himself to paint during the years he spent while being held captive in the Tower of Dijon and continued to practise his art thereafter. ~~The sixteen paintings of the Vienna manuscript were created during the latter half of the 1460's while Rene resided at Le Chateau De Saumur, in Anjou.
There are six manuscripts known to exist of Le Cueur d'Amours Espris( also known as Le Cuer d'Amours Espris or Le Coeur D'Amour Epris). Five date from the end of the fifteenth century-four in Paris (three at the Bibliotheque Nationale, one in the Bibliotheque d'Arsenal) and one in the Vatican Library, Vienna. This is the oldest and the most beautiful, being the only one illuminated by the Cueur Master himself. The original manuscript is 127 parchment pages in length. It was originally acquired by the Austrian national hero, Prince Eugene of Savoy; they do not know how or from whom. As part of Prince Eugene's library, it became one of the treasures of the Austrian Imperial Library in 1736.
This bittersweet love story is spun out most artfully and circumstantially by the author. The prose passages of the narrative are continually interspersed with long passages in verse, the thoughts and words of the characters, and inscriptions along the way, displaying the author's admirable learning in history and mythology, as well as his skill in the invention of allegorical figures. Dames Fantasy and Imagination, credited with the splendors of Love's castle, are Rene's best assistants. He not only had eyes receptive to the marvels of nature, but the gift of describing them most evocatively. His work celebrates the bright greens of the meadows and hills, the darker hues of the forests, the twittering of the birds in the trees, and above all, the light in all its infinte variations: the rising sun at dawn; the shimmering daylight over the landscape and the sea; the sinking of the evening sun; dusk; and the blackest night under the glittering stars.
~ Rene's masterpiece, Le Livre du Cueur d'Amours Espris, was written in 1457. This book of the heart as love's captive ia a direct descendant of Rene's classic Romance of the Rose , with it's allegorical characters clearly labeled by names indicating their nature and functions. Although such a world of personified abstractions may not be too congenial to modern modes of thinking, Rene's contemporaries were quite comfortable with it. It was, in fact, a popular scenario for the literature of the period.
C. Preston Guice
A copy of "King Rene's Book of Love" was located through the interlibrary loan system at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I have scanned the sixteen beautiful "illuminations" painted by Rene D'Anjou to illustrate his narrative along with the commentaries on each . This along with the Introduction by Franz Unterkircher not only gives us an awareness of Rene's narrative but also into Rene's own life as well. It is with great appreciation that I thank
and the interlibrary loan sytem for making this material available.
The floral design displayed on the left is typical of that painted by Rene to decorate each of the 127 folio pages. This not only shows that Rene was a man of talent but also that he was a man of patiance