A cycle of Alexander romances

A cycle of Alexander romances

Jehan de Grise (illustrator) and others

mid-14th century, and c.1400

Flanders; England

Manuscript

This manuscript, one of the most sumptuous books of the Middle Ages, contains a cycle of romances about Alexander the Great. Its exquisite illustrations were completed in Flanders in 1344 by the artist Jehan de Grise. This is a small selection of the manuscript's densely packed pages. On fol. 57r Alexander is shown in disguise, leading a mule, while King Porus sits enthroned. On the next page, fol. 58r, a different, even finer artist takes up the decorative scheme, and depicts Alexander riding into battle against Porus. Playful and sometimes bizarre creatures populate the margins of these two folios, including a monkey/lion shooting a bird, while a hare escapes; some pruning of the exuberant foliate border; and a flirtatious game. The other images include a knightly puppet show (fol. 76r); monkeys dancing (fol. 81r); giant hares hunting men (fol. 81v); monks and nuns playing piggyback (fol. 98v); and scenes from the English text Alexander and Dindimus, in which Alexander debates with the king of the Brahmans the merits of their very different lifestyles (fol. 212r). Finally, fol. 260r includes a picture of monstrous races lurking at the edge of the known world, from a text about Marco Polo’s travels.

Comments

22/09/2013

Maxine Warren

Fantastic, I am a keen historic reenactor, and am planning a tapestry project using the hares as inspiration.

Iskander and the talking tree
Iskander and the talking tree
The death of Dara
The death of Dara
Gower’s book of advice for Alexander
Gower’s book of advice for Alexander
Iskandar visits Mecca
Iskandar visits Mecca
Alexander fragments in an Elizabethan notebook
Alexander fragments in an Elizabethan notebook
A cycle of Alexander romances
A cycle of Alexander romances