This prayer book preserved in Portugal is a lavishly illuminated codex produced in Poitiers around the years 1450-60. It contains almost 40 large miniatures along with 248 pages painted with three illuminations each, depicting stories of the Old Testament and grotesque decoration.
The Prayer Book of Poitiers: Illuminators Inspired by Jean Fouquet
A renowned artist called Master of Adelaide of Savoy was probably the author of the paintings in the manuscript. The illuminator was called after the daughter of Louis XIV, because the artist painted for Adelaide of Savoy a Book of Hours now kept in Chantilly, Musée Condé, Ms. 76.
There is agreement that four illuminators inspired by Jean Fouquet, an innovator of the fifteenth-century painting, took part in the making of the manuscript. Working within the tradition of the international gothic, Jean Fouquet was able to develop an original style characterized by vivid colors and elongated figures typical of the international style unified with the plasticity of the Italian painters. Influences of the style of Fra Angelico, for instance, is clearly visible in the illuminations of the Annunciation and the Crucifixion.
Narrative in the Margins: the Original Layout of the Illuminations
The Prayer book of Poitiers displays a rich decoration. The devotional book contains full-page miniatures for the major sections of the book like the Passion cycle. The ornament is unusual for a prayer book because the margins are eliminated, and the narrative occupies the whole page.
It is remarkable that all the text pages display three miniatures in the margins with more than 850 illuminations. These images contain scenes from the Old Testament along with vivid and even bizarre grotesque.
The illuminators interpreted the biblical stories in the light of the contemporary events of the history of France. This is especially clear in the pictures of the Adoration of the Magi, in which the wise men from the East show features of French rulers. The French king emulates Gaspar, while French soldiers appear in the scene.