BENING, Simon
(b. 1483, Ghent, d. 1561, Bruges)

Genealogy of the Infante Dom Fernando of Portugal

1530-34
Manuscript (Additional Ms. 12531), 559 x 394 mm
British Library, London

This manuscript was commissioned by Infante Dom Fernando of Portugal, brother of King John II. The miniaturist was Simon Bening who enjoyed the favour of the Portuguese royal household.

The pages in the Genealogy of the Infante Dom Fernando of Portugal dealing with the main episodes of the history of the House of Aragon begin with his ancestors, who are traced back as far as the Old Testament. Their overall structure recalls depictions of the Tree of Jesse, familiar to us from religious depiction. Moreover, the extraordinary format of the leaves - one of the largest in the history of European book illumination - recalls panel paintings.

The miniature on folio 4r is one of the five executed by Simon Bening of the twelve miniatures in this manuscript. The other seven illustrations were made later (after 1534) by António de Holanda.




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