Rochefoucauld Grail is a four volume illustrated manuscript made up of English and French Arthurian legends, including the stories of the quest for the Holy Grail, the Lady of the Lake, King Arthur, Camelot, Sir Lancelot and Guinevere. The first three volumes remain together whilst the fourth volume is now split between two owners in Manchester and Oxford.
The stories featured in the manuscript were very popular at the time it was produced and this is proven by the fact that it was translated into multiple European languages. Sotheby’s, who recently sold the manuscript, explain that it was popular as it offered a model of chivalric behaviour and could be seen a guidebook for Christian society.
The manuscript was commissioned by Baron de Rochefoucald, who was stationed in Flanders from 1317 to 1318 as a representative of King Philip V of France. The manuscript was produced in the second or third decade of the 14th century, just a few decades after the first collections of Camelot stories were compiled.
The manuscript featured 107 colourful illustrations on a background of pure gold leaf. It is thought to have been made in Flanders or Artois, France between 1315 and 1323 . The document remained in the hands of the Rochefoucauld family for 500 years until Sir Thomas Phillips bought it in the 19th century.
According to Sotheby’s, about 200 cows were needed to produce the vellum sheets that make up the three volumes. The manuscript is a considerable size with pages of 15 inches by 11.5 inches.
History of ownership
The manuscript was owned by the Rochefoucauld family until the 19th century when it was sold to private collector, Sir Thomas Phillips.
The manuscript was sold by Sotheby’s, London on December 7 2010 for £2,393,250.
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