La Sainte Abbaye, Paris or Maubuisson,

c. 1290/1300 (before 1294?)  (Ms. Add. 39843), fol. 1

Artists in the decades around the year 1300 usually set little store by three-dimensional designs. Illumination in those days centred on two-dimensionality, while still managing to lend the mysteries of religion and faith complex images that are half schematised, half painted picture. Such miniatures actually need extensive explanation; they are, however, usually aimed at a circle of initiated persons and thus often appear only with small inscriptions accompanying the figures or with short quotations on banderoles. One of these images without text opens a treatise by an anonymous writer of the holy, the ideal abbey: the abbey itself is depicted below with its closed gate whose heavy iron fittings are executed in minute detail, as are the hinges and locks of the two doors leading to the chapels on the left and right. The viewer of this picture stands within rather than in front of the abbey; the world is outside and the miniature is destined for the nuns within