Anonymous: Book of the Marvels of the World, fol 218r (1400)
(Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK)
An illuminated page made by an unknown French artist. This beautiful page comes from a copy of 'Book of the Marvels of the World'. The original book was written by the 13th century Italian writer Rustichello da Pisa and describes Marco Polo's travels through Asia between 1271 and 1295, and his experiences at the court of Kublai Khan, Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and emperor of China. From the start there was a discussion if Marco Polo really did travel to Asia or that he was just repeating stories that he had heard from other travelers (Marco Polo for example does not mention the Great Wall of China, tea, Chinese characters and chopsticks). This page show the start of Marco's epic journey: together with his father and uncle they are shown embarking in sail-ships from Venice. The picture also gives a view of the San Marco square in Venice with the saint Mark’s basilica and the four bronze horses, the Doge’s Palace and the two columns with the bronze statues of Venice's two patron: the lion of Saint Mark and the statue of Saint Teodoro of Amasea. Page from around 1400.