The Pilgrimage of Human Life


The allegorical text of Le pèlerinage de la vie humaine (The pilgrimage of human life) written in vernacular verse was inspired by the 13th-century French poem Roman de la Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. Composed circa 1330‒32 by Guillaume de Digulleville, with a second recension in 1355, this text represents the earlier of the two versions. Produced in northeast France in 1370, this copy from the Walters Art Museum (W.141) contains a frontispiece miniature with a portrait of the author, as well as 83 tinted grisaille illustrations. These images are based on models consistent with contemporary thematic choices and contain abundant anecdotal detail, lending character to the text. The Institute for Textual Research and History, at the National Center for Scientific Research in France has been gathering all reproductions of Digulleville’s manuscripts. The version shown here is one of the few copies outside of France. The text consists of a prologue and four books. It is written in brown ink, with rubrics in red, in littera cursiva formata script, and in two columns to the page, often with borders between them. There are painted capitals at text divisions and an illuminated capital on the frontispiece. The names of speakers are generally centered, sometimes above the illustrations. There is no original punctuation. The illustrations are of average quality, especially toward the end, and are contained in yellow frames with vine leaves. Instructions to artists appear as text next to images (for example, on folio 8 recto), as letters inside images, and as phrases in the lower-left margins (for example on folio 45 recto).

Last updated: October 17, 2017