“Influence of Venus”

Christine de Pizan is widely regarded as one of Europe’s earliest female professional authors, and is certainly one of the most prolific. Born in Venice in 1365, she moved to Paris as a young child when her father was appointed the royal astrologer and alchemist to King Charles V of France. Christine took advantage of the intellectual atmosphere of the court, making use of the royal library to teach herself languages, history, and literature. Her writing career began at the age of 24, after her husband, a royal secretary, died suddenly, and she was faced with the necessity of providing for herself and her small children. She soon attracted the patronage of a number of nobles at court, and produced dozens of major works over the next three decades, along with hundreds of ballads and poem
  

Detail of a miniature of Christine de Pizan presenting her manuscript to Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, France (Paris), c. 1410 – c. 1414, Harley MS 4431, f. 3r
  

The largest extant collection of her writing can be found in Harley MS 4431. 

http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Harley_MS_4431

A compilation, now in two volumes, produced for Isabeau (or Isabel) of Bavaria, the queen consort to Charles VI of France. This manuscript was written and decorated under Christine’s supervision, and it is possible that some of the passages are in her hand. The notable artists the Master of the Cité des Dames (see also Egerton MS 2709, Royal MS 19 E VI, and Royal MS 20 C IV) and the Master of the Duke of Bedford (see also Add MS 18850) were principally responsible for the illumination. 
 

Detail of a miniature of Queen Penthesilea with and her army of Amazons riding through the forest to aid the Trojan army, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 103v –

  

Harley_ms_4431_f108v_detail Detail of a miniature of Hercules slaying Cerberus, and Theseus and Pirithous battling demons, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 108v –

  

Detail of a miniature of Apollo killing Ganymede by piercing his eye, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 119v –

 
Detail of a miniature of the Judgement of Paris, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 125v

 
Detail of a miniature of the Wheel of Fortune, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 129r
  
Detail of a miniature of Hermaphroditus and the nymph Salmacis bathing in a lake, from ‘L’Épître Othéa’, Harley MS 4431, f. 132v
  
Detail of a miniature of ladies watching knights jousting, from ‘Le Duc des vrais amants’, Harley MS 4431, f. 150r

 
Detail of a miniature of Christine and the Sibyl standing in a sphere of the cosmos, with the moon, sun and stars surrounding them, from ‘Le chemin de long estude’,
  

 

 

Detail of a miniature of Christine de Pizan before the personifications of Rectitude, Reason, and Justice in her study, and helping another lady to build the ‘Cité des dames’, Harley MS 4431, f. 290r
  
 See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/06/christine-de-pizan-and-the-book-of-the-queen.html#sthash.3u35OANI.dpuf

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