The manuscript of the Illustrated Life of St Anthony was commissioned by the French Catholic prelate Jean de Montchenu and compiled by Jean Macellard. The codex dates back to 1431-1443 and illustrates the life and miracles of St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Order Hospitallers of St. Anthony, which received papal approval in 1247 and followed the Augustinian rule. The rich decorative apparatus of the manuscript is the work of the French artist Robert Favier. It includes 200 illuminations painted with only a few colors, mainly red, green, grey, and gold.
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 1443 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 sources 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.
A Gothic Illuminator: Robert Favier
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.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Life and Writings of Saint Anthony the Abbot": Sant'Antonio Abbate, la vita e le opere facsimile edition, published by ArtCodex, 2013Request Info / Price