Drum-beating Monkey. Royal 1 E V, f. 3, early 16th c. British Library

Drum-beating Monkey. Royal 1 E V, f. 3, early 16th c. British Library

 

Decorated Initial D (detail), from Ms. Ludwig IX 14, Austrian, about 1485. J. Paul Getty Museum

Decorated Initial D (detail), from Ms. Ludwig IX 14, Austrian, about 1485. J. Paul Getty Museum

 

Ms. 135 K40, f. 14, 1600s. Den Haag, Koniklijke Bibliotek

Ms. 135 K40, f. 14, 1600s. Den Haag, Koniklijke Bibliotek

 

Bible latine complète, avec les prologues de saint Jérôme 1101-1200

Bible latine complète, avec les prologues de saint Jérôme 1101-1200

 

Considering a snack, from Horae ad usum Parisiensem, 1475-1500. Bibliothèque nationale de France

Considering a snack, from Horae ad usum Parisiensem, 1475-1500. Bibliothèque nationale de France

 

  MONKEY LOVE  Jacques, de Longuyon, Les voeux du paon. Tournai (?), ca. 1350.  NY, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS G.24, fol. 12v.


MONKEY LOVE
Jacques, de Longuyon, Les voeux du paon. Tournai (?), ca. 1350.
NY, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS G.24, fol. 12v.

 

From the 13th to the 16th centuries, most of the representations of apes appeared in the margins of manuscripts, especially in Psalters, Books of Hours and some Bibles in France, England, and Italy. In these examples the apes are parodying human actions, fighting birds, or showing some folk knowledge of these animals. It has been postulated that these marginal scenes, confusing and sometimes monstrous in nature, favored a more spiritual approach to the text (Wirth 2008). By participating in all kinds of reprehensible, obscene, and ridiculous behavior intended to make people laugh, these images provided a greater emphasis to the moral sense of the accompanying text. In addition, in the margins of these manuscripts, there seems to have been a new interest in the accuracy of the physical representation of the ape. This trend will continue in the 15th and 16th centuries, where the ape is depicted in portraits of ladies and gentlemen as a symbol of social status. Moreover, the imitative nature of the ape and its satirical function acquired a didactic raison d’être and, as a result, its iconography has survived well into the 21st century. [Apes in Medieval Art, October 28, 2013, By http://mad.hypotheses.org/172]

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