Politics and prestige: five hundred years of images of the Grande Chasse of the Sainte-Chapelle

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Today, only images remain of the lost Grande Chasse of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, the fantastical reliquary cupboard built to house the twenty-two relics of the Passion acquired in 1239 by the sainted King Louis IX (r. 1226-1270). Since its destruction during the French Revolution, images of the Grande Chasse have been used to reconstruct the appearance of the cabinet. Depictions of the Chasse survive in a variety of illuminated manuscripts and printed media, spanning five centuries of French rule. What is often overlooked within the discussion of Chasse imagery are the reasons behind the commissions. Here for the first time, images of the Chasse are the subject of focused, art-historical study. This thesis catalogues and studies surviving images of the lost reliquary cabinet and its contents, offering new insights regarding the patronage and function of illustrations of the Grande Chasse. Particular attention is paid to books of hours and liturgical manuscripts from the fourteenth through fifteenth centuries. Also considered is the reemergence of a particular image (which I term the `still life' image of the Chasse) in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Lastly, an exploration is conducted of the only print made during the life of the Chasse. This thesis demonstrates tensions surrounding succession were the catalyst that inspired many of the commissions. So, too, did the need for personal reaffirmation of status during these tumultuous times.

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Art history