MASTER of the Duke of Bedford
(active 1405-1435 in Paris)

Tristan and Isolde

c. 1410
Manuscript (Codex Vindobonensis 2537), 477 x 355 mm (folio size)
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

The content of this manuscript is a prose romance written in northern France between 1215 and 1235. It is an adaptation of the original Celtic legend on the basis of 12th-century literary precursors in verse form. The prose of Tristan unites three cycles of legends: the Arthurian legend, the fictional history of the Holy Grail and the legend of Tristan, whereby Tristan's faithful love for Isolde remains merely an episode.

The manuscript now kept in Vienna was commissioned by Duc Jean de Berry (1340-1416). Among the six artists on record as being in the service of the Duc de Berry, and thought responsible for the 144 miniatures, Master of the Duke of Bedford stands out for the quality of his work. The composition of the paintings combines older traditions of the 14th century with the naturalism that characterises the art at the Parisian court of the early 15th century.

The miniature on folio 246r depicts the Knights of the Round Table around King Arthur's fool, Daguenet. The fool was defeated by an unknown knight. The six Knights have been also defeated, captured and bound in chains.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.