Le bon roi Alexandre, Franco-Flemish, late 13th/ early 14th century

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Ms. 78 Cl, fol. 67r

The tale of Alexander’s voyage to the depths of the sea belonged to the earliest Greek sources as well as its counterpart, his flight to heaven in a basket drawn by eagles or griffins. Patterns for the illustrations of these adventures, however, did not reach the rest of Europe earlier than in the thirteenth century, most likely they came from Byzantium via South Italy. Perhaps the cultural policy of Emperor Frederick II in Sicily played a significant role in this dispersal. Just like Leo’s text of the tenth century, the illuminations of a late-antique manuscript may then have influenced, during the 13th century, the European art-tradition of the Alexander Romance.