Gaston Phoebus – The Hunting Book
A best seller, straight from the Middle Ages.
In the years 1387-1389, Gaston III, count of Foix and Báarn in the south of France, also known as “Phoebus”, after the Greek sun god, wrote his Livre de Chasse, or The Hunting Book.
This work is the most famous record of medieval hunting and a fascinating piece of cultural history, moreover it was used as a natural history text book well into the 19th century.
This magnificently painted, hand-written copy of the original text of The Hunting Book was commissioned by Duke Philip the Bold, brother of the bibliophile Duc de Berry.
Right from the beginning, The Hunting Book was a great success. The courts of France and Burgundy realised that it was more than a study of nature; and indeed it was considered a work of art that inspired painters and writers for many generations.
Its 128 folios contain extraordinary miniatures. Their bright and fresh colours on the sumptuous, gold grounds present sensitive and subtle painting techniques. The generous layout of the paintings in The Hunting Book and their particular effect of depth are reminiscent of exquisite tapestries.
Eighty seven vivid miniatures, richly ornate with gold leaf and brush gold, 126 imaginative large initials, as well as abundant scrollwork made of shining golden, red and blue foliage make the 128 folios a perfect background for the whole splendour of the French Gothic period. Written in a wonderful, if not perfect textura script, the French text is clearly legible to this day.
Gaston Phoebus – The Hunting Book facsimile edition is published in the format of 385 x 286mm, and is strictly limited to 980 hand-numbered copies.
The binding is modelled on a blue silk binding from the library of King Louis XII. The fine silk was especially woven for this purpose and embroidered with golden lilies, the emblem of the French royal dynasty. The spine of the volume is perfected and covered in parchment.
The volume also contains a complete transcription and translation of the French text so that today’s readers may immerse themselves in the aristocratic culture of the Middle Ages.
Yves Christe (Geneva), Antoine d’Escayrac-Lauture (Kasteeel Westerlo), William Voelkle (New York) and François Avril (Paris) present a comprehensive historic and art-historic analysis of the work in the insightful commentary volume.
Both the facsimile and the commentary volumes are presented in a protective case of acrylic glass.