Jean Fouquet (1419?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on the banks of the Loire, while his Temple of Jerusalem resembles an altered Cathedral of Tours. Jewish Antiquities was written by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (38?-100?) and recounts the history of the Jewish people from Creation to the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in A.D. 66. Composed in Greek and translated into Latin, the book was read by the early Christians and remained popular with both Christians and Jews. This manuscript belonged to the French king Francis I (1494-1547), who confiscated it in 1523 from Charles III, the Duke of Bourbon (1490-1527).
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Last updated: September 18, 2015