XX MEDIEVAL TEXTS AND IMAGES
73 The Baptism of Christ. Très Belles Heures, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale ms
Nouv. Acq. lat. 3093, p. 162.
74 The Elevation of the Host. Petites Heures, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale ms
lat. 18014, f. 172.
75 Prince Kissing the Paten. Petites Heures. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale ms
lat. 18014, f. 173v.
76 The Annunciation. Très Belles Heures (Milan Hours), Turin, Museo Civico,
77 The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. Belles Heures, The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, The Cloisters, f. 212.
78 Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist. Belles Heures, The Metropoli¬
tan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, f. 212v.
79 The Feeding of the Five Thousand. Très Riches Heures, Chantilly, Musée
Condé, f. 168v.
80 The Ascension. Très Riches Heures, Chantilly, Musée Condé ms 65 f. 184.
81 The Washing of the Apostles’ Feet. Prayer-book, New York, Pierpont Mor¬
gan Library MS M. 944, fols. 19v-20.
82 The Entombment. Prayer-book, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS
M. 944, fols. 24v-25.
83 The Ascension. Prayer-book, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS
M. 944, fols. 35v-36.
84 St. Katherine. Prayer-book, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M. 944,
Pictures for Aristocrats: The
Manuscripts of the Légende dorée
As far as its translation into the vernacular, one wonders what the trans¬
lators thought they were doing when they made it possible for relatively
unsophisticated readers to peruse this particular book by themselves.
... the contents of the (vernacular) Legenda must have exerted a pro¬
found influence on the religious outlook of many laymen and women.1
In her study of the Legenda aurea, Jacobus de Voragine’s famous thirteenth century
compendium of saints’ lives, Sherry Reames broke new ground with her suggestion
that the work was not simply a repository of colourful, naïve tales written for an
equally naïve lay audience. In the past, influential commentators like Emile Mâle
successfully promoted the notion that the uncomplicated narrative structures of the
saints’ lives struck a chord with the simple man and “offered a model after which to
fashion his life”.2 Until Reames, this assumption remained unquestioned, despite
1 Sherry L. Reames, The Legenda Aurea (Wisconsin: 1985): 86, 208.
Despite the wide influence of the Legenda aurea in the Middle Ages, the work had been the subject of
few independent studies. See Ernest Cushing Richardson, Materials for a Life of Jacopo da Voragine
(New York: 1935) and Pierce Butler, Legenda Aurea—Légende Dorée—Golden Legend (Baltimore:
1899). The proceedings of a 1983 symposium on aspects of the Legenda aurea have been published as
B. Dunn-Lardeau, ed., Legenda Aurea: Sept Siècles de Diffusion (Montreal and Paris: 1986). The best
modem Latin edition is that of T. Graesse, ed., Jacobi a Voragine Legenda aurea (Breslau: 1890, re¬
printed by Otto Zeller, Osnabrück: 1969). The only modem edition of de Vignay’s French translation
is by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell, “A Critical Edition of Four Chapters from the Légende
Dorée,” Mediaeval Studies 51 (1989): 130-204. Apart from an edition of Caxton’s version, there is
only one (inadequate) English translation by Granger Ryan and Helmut Ripperger, eds., The Golden
Legend of Jacobus de Voragine (New York: 1941, reprinted by Amo Press, 1969).
7 Emile Mâle, The Gothic Image (New York: 1972, reprint from 1913 edition): 267ff.
Other writers guilty of similar views include the early 20th century Bollandist Hippolyte Delehaye,
particularly in Les légendes hagiographiques, published in Brussels in 1905, and more recently,
Granger Ryan and Helmut Ripperger in their preface to the 1941 English translation. For a discussion