Illuminated Mystery Play Is Digitized

The British Museum has digitized, in two online volumes, a highly-decorated copy of a French medieval mystery play, with illuminations depicting scenes from the play.

The illuminator is known to be Loyset Liédet (d. 1479) from northern France and a favorite artist of the Dukes of Burgundy.  Says the article, "Liédet’s painting in this book is important for its groundbreaking, inventive and imaginative interpretation of a play, rather than devotional text. Because he was illustrating a new contemporary text, Liédet had to create new scenes corresponding to the text. His creative and novel compositions narrate the text in original ways."

This article includes three sample illuminations, including one depicting doctors examining a patient with leprosy. Surviving ducal accounts detail the cost of the manuscript as well as the names of the scribe and artist. "The expense to produce the whole book was 51 pounds and 19 shillings... In comparison, a senior military officer at Philip the Good’s court, the Master of the Cannon, was paid a salary of 6 pounds a year..."