The Hours of Henry IV of France

The Hours of Henry IV of France St Luke, f. 9r


St Luke, f. 9r

Above the pericope of the Gospel according to St Luke – a text describing the Annunciation (1: 26-38) which was read during the divine office of the feast of the Incarnation on March 25th – is a portrait of the bearded evangelist with a book rest (an unusual piece of furniture in early sixteenth-century France). He is dressed in white, sitting on an ornate, wooden chair decorated with precious stones topped by a scallop-shaped niche symbolising power. The saint writes with a plume directly on a bound codex lying open. Rather than portraying reality, the intention is to show the saint as an author, not a scribe, and the symbolic meaning of the book he is writing as the word of God. Beside the saint stands a winged ox, his theriomorphic animal. A balcony in the background overlooks a wide landscape. The iconography of this painting is a Christian version of the classic author’s portrait.

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