• Art of Inspiration

    • Tiny poems and illustrations comprise the ‘Little Book of Love’ by Pierre Salas, who especially created it for Marguerite.

    Petit Livre d’Amour, a miniature book from the sixteenth century / 

    The Little Book of Love was conceived in the sixteenth century by the poet Pierre Salas, who made it especially for his beloved future wife, Marguerite Bullioud. It only measures 12x9 cm and is written with golden ink, accompanied by the beautiful illustrations of an artist who identifies himself as the “Master de la Chronique Scandaleuse”.

    The book describes the relationship between the author and the woman he loves, before introducing the rest of the book, which contains 12 “iconologues”; a combination of prose and poetry on the left side page, which includes the initials M, for Marguerite and P, for Pierre (something like the irresistible teenage art of writing romantic initials anywhere), and on the right page the corresponding image; an allegorical representation of courtly love. Five of these refer to love, the others to moral subjects. However, instead of being overly cheesy or overly sweet, the author portrays a more realistic image of love. His metaphors are able to exalt beauty while retaining poetic wit and a critical distance before the vulnerable state of his lover.

    The beginning of the “iconologues” section is among one of the book’s best moments, where Pierre tells Marguerite that he wants to put her heart in a daisy (a play on words in French), and that his thoughts will always be with her. On the opposite page we see a man literally placing his heart in a giant daisy. There is something innocent in his compliments to her that make the book endearing.

    The last two pages contain Pierre’s portrait, depicted by the court’s painter and friend, Jean Perréal, accompanied by a spectacular page with writing. The book was held in a supremely decorated case with green and golden flowers, engraved with the initials P and M. The rings in the corner of the box were intended hold the chain that would suspend the book from her lover’s belt.

    Today, a book like this seems unimaginable. Who has the time and patience? Who has golden ink? But, as is the case with epistolary correspondence, this form of communication is part of the affective historical memory, and one of the most delicate.

    Tagged: books, Renascence, inspiration