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Peter of Luxembourg's Vision, in The Desert of Religion

Peter of Luxembourg's Vision, in The Desert of Religion

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1425

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Faustina B VI, vol. II

Item number: f.23v

Length: 25.2

Width: 19.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Related images

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Allegory, or extensive use of symbolism in a moralising story, has a long tradition in Christian literature. 'The Desert of Religion', a poem in a northern English dialect, uses the symbol of a forest to expound the daily spiritual battle of virtue and vice. This copy has tinted half-page drawings of devotional figures with verses inscribed around them. Facing them, diagrams in the shape of trees bear the names of virtues and vices on their trunks and leaves, giving visual form to the poem's allegory. The book was made for a religious community, the location of which is now unknown. On the left, the poem concludes, ending 'Amen, amen.' On right, St Peter of Luxembourg kneels in the desert. Clad in black and wearing a red cardinal's hat, he prays below his vision of the Crucifixion, with a very naturalistic depiction of Jesus. The soft colours of the tinted drawing intensify the mat red and black of Peter's clothing and the detail of the blood in the Crucifixion.

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