Category:MS. LUDWIG XIII 5 (Getty museum) - Mirror of history

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Unknown Flemish, Ghent, about 1475 Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment bound between wood boards covered with brown morocco

MS. LUDWIG XIII 5


The Speculum maius is considered the masterwork of Vincent de Beauvais, a thirteenth-century monk. With almost ten thousand chapters and over three million words, this ambitious text attempts to give a universal summary of the world in three parts: nature, history, and the arts and sciences. The section concerning history, called the Mirror of History, for example, endeavors to provide a comprehensive history of the world from Creation until 1254.

Although Beauvais tried to compile a carefully organized and factually accurate summary of human knowledge, his history of mankind actually blends together biblical, mythical, and historical events. Nonetheless, the Speculum maius was a stunning achievement, and the text's popularity and influence in the Middle Ages is evident in its survival in a number of luxurious illuminated manuscripts. The Miroir historial ( Mirror of History ) is Jean de Vignay's French translation of the 1300s from the original Latin.

The Getty's copy of the Miroir historial dates to the 1400s and contains 132 miniatures by a number of different Flemish artists, but does not cover the entire period of history from Creation to 1254. Instead, the two-volume set ends with the death of the Virgin and an anthology of miracles she performed after her death.

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