Jul 10, 2006

Miniature from a Speculum Historiale: Claudius Designates Nero as His Successor

Miniature from a Speculum Historiale: Claudius Designates Nero as His Successor


Master of Jouvenel des Ursins

(French, active 1447–60)

Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum

Sheet: 12.9 x 9.7 cm (5 1/16 x 3 13/16 in.); Framed: 44.5 x 34.3 cm (17 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 30.5 cm (16 x 12 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1987.4


This miniature came from a sumptuous copy of the Speculum Historiale (Mirror of History) written by 13th-century Dominican friar Vincent de Beauvais. It covers a history of the world from creation through to De Beauvais’s own time. Here a seated Claudius, emperor of Rome (AD 41–54), is appointing a kneeling Nero, his grand-nephew and adopted stepson, to be his successor. Although an event from antiquity, contemporary dress and setting was used and would have been familiar to the reader. The original work remained much in demand and numerous copies were produced after De Beauvais’s lifetime. This miniature belonged to a deluxe copy made for René d’Anjou (1409–1480), king of Jerusalem and a major patron of art and books.

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