Monday, April 18, 2022

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Illuminated Manuscript, Bible (part), Creation of the world, (and Eve!) Walters Manuscript W.805, fol. 6v detail. Here is a beautiful natural garden with trees & shrubs full of birds, water fowl, & even a squirrel in a tree.

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

See:

Creation & Fall of the Angels

Fall of the Angels.ca 1000. Illumination. Caedmon Poems. Oxford, Bodleian LIbrary, MS Junius XI, f. 3. P. D'Acona & E. Aeschlimann. The Art of Illumination. London: Phaidon, 1969

Fall of the Angels. Early 13th C. Illumination. Psalter of Saint Louis and Blanche of Castille. Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, MS 1186, f. 9v. P. D'Ancona & E. Aeschlimann. The Art of Illumination. London: Phaidon, 1969. plate 72

Creation and Fall of the Angels. ca. 1410. Illumination,18 x 11 3/4 in. Historiated Bible of Guiard des Moulins. Department of Manuscripts, Royal Library of Belgium, MS 9001, f. 19. L.M.J. DeLaisse. Medieval Miniatures. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965. Plate 21

Master of Catherine of Cleeves. Hellmouth. c. 1440. Illumination. Hours of Catherine of Cleeves. New York, Morgan Libary. Gill, D. M. Illuminated Manuscripts. New York: Brockhampton Press and Barnes and Noble, 1996. p. 7

Boucicault Master and Workshop Hell. 15th C. Illumination. Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, ms. 770, f. 227v. Meiss, Millard. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master. London: Phaidon, 1968. Pl. 338.