How stunning is this? The text reads "Ave Maria Gratia Plena" -- "Hail Mary Full of Grace." But within the confines of each letter, the calligrapher depicts individual narratives creating tension between the two -- the formality of the letters joined into sacred text and the liveliness of the people and animals engaged in very human and fantastic activities. An unstoppable redeemed creation -- with all its beauty and faults, love and violence, domestic and wild nature praising Mary the Mother of God. (Click on the image for a larger version)
Heure de Charles d’Angoulême. Horae ad usum Parisiensem. Latin 1173. 1485. (source: Bibliothèque nationale de France). And if you want to see the entire manuscript (praise be for the digital age!) go here "Horae ad usum Parisiensem" and scroll through the pages.
Here is a bit more about the work and the artist from a publisher that specializes in creating reproductions of these beautiful manuscripts.
"This book of hours commissioned for Charles, Count of Angoulême (the father of Francis I of France) is undeniably Robinet Testard’s most personal work. Testard, one of France’s most creative painters, drew upon his boundless imagination to create a totally novel work. The calendar scenes on the opening pages are surprisingly original. Testard also portrays exotic landscapes, botanical elements, an acrostic featuring animated figures more typical of alphabet books, and even combines mythology and religion in rather peculiar ways. Testard’s compositions in the Passion cycle are inspired by engraving techniques, and the intense, vivid colours in his paintings bring the scenes alive."