The manuscript of the Illustrated Life of St Anthony compiled by Jean Macellars contains 200 monochrome miniatures or colored with light pigments. The codex illustrates the life and miracles of St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Order Hospitallers of St. Anthony. The order received papal approval in 1247 and followed the Augustinian rule. The rich decoration of the manuscript is work of the French artist Robert Favier.
The Life and Writings of St. Anthony the Abbot: A Masterpiece of French Miniatures of the Quattrocento
Jean de Montchenu (1378-1459), was rector of the monastery of S. Antonio di Ranverso, located near Turin, the most antique monastery of the order of the Antonines after the mother abbey of La Motte-Saint-Didier.
Jean de Montchenu commissioned this precious manuscript for the newly elected Pope Eugene IV. The codex was probably made between 1431 and 1437 modeling the design on a manuscript dated 1426 and it was illuminated by the artist Robert Favier.
Pope Eugene IV donated the manuscript to the Medici family, and from the sixteenth-century up to the present time, the book has been kept in the family library in Florence.
Jean Macellard was the sacristan of the monastery of St. Antoine-en-Viennois (Isére) and author of the text contained in this codex. He selected several soures including the Life of St. Anthony written by St. Athanasius, and the sermons of St. Anthony, all describing episodes of the life of St. Anthony the Abbot.
Robert Favier: Gothic Illuminator of the Life and Writings of St. Anthony the Abbot
Robert Favier of Avignon was an artist representative of the elegant Gothic painting characterized by cortese themes and elongated figures. The known works of Favier are just a few and include the manuscript of the Life and Writings of St. Anthony the Abbot.
Most illustrations of the codex have captions taken from the textual source of the episode, for instance texts of St. Jerome, St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, Alphonsus, or the Legenda Breviarii.
This manuscript is comparable to another Vita sancti Antonii, now in the Malta Public Library, Valletta, dated 1426, also illustrated by Robin Favier.