MINIATURIST, French
(active 1414-1419 in Paris)

Boccaccio: Decameron

1414-19
Manuscript (Pal. lat. 1989), 300 x 225 mm
Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican

This manuscript contains the French translation of the Decameron, written by Boccaccio around 1349-1353. It is a collection of tales held together by a subplot that relates to the plague of 1348, which raged through the whole of Europe, including Florence. The manuscript was commissioned by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (reigned 1404-1419). The sumptuous manuscript of 328 folios contains the first complete cycle of illustrations for all 100 tales.

On folio 174v, image and text depict the ninth tale of the fifth day of Boccaccio's Decameron. Monna Giovanna, a noble Florentine lady, is seated in the garden of Federigo Alberighi, who is in love with her. The impoverished nobleman has no meat to offer her, so he asks the maid to prepare a meal with his only precious possession, a falcon. The extremely wealthy object of his affection recognises his generosity of spirit and so marries him.