Royer Didier



2019 - 2022

Project Abstract

As a painter and noted bibliophile who was invested in preserving the historical legacy of his local community of Langres, France, Joseph Royer (1850-1941) wrote and illuminated several books. Imitating medieval book arts and decoration, Royer produced a manuscript in 1902 to honor the patron saint of Langres, Bishop Didier, who was martyred by Vandals c. 356. Recently acquired by the Nelson Atkins Library, this manuscript, which now bears the shelfmark KGC 51, contains a decorated and illuminated life of St. Didier in French. The decoration is reminiscent of medieval books of hours, with elaborate borders illustrating flowers and insects. The five illuminated miniatures constitute a pictorial cycle of the life of the saint's martyrdom, even as they showcase the landscape and people of Langres he served. Our study takes up the medieval sources for this deluxe devotional book. The Royder Didier, in essence, operates as an honorific not only to the saint but also to the town of Langres, where Royer was born and raised. In a family dedicated to studying the history and antiquities of Langres, Royer used his talents as a painter and bookmaker to add to the town's historical narrative by imitating medieval devotional books to produce a deluxe account of its medieval past.

Project Team

Virginia Blanton
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Nathan Oyler
Department of Chemistry
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Jeff Rydberg-Cox
Classics Program
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
School of Computing and Engineering
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Research Assistants

Jack Spencer Walton
Undergraduate Researcher
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
2021 Senior Capstone Project: A Quantitative Analysis of the Royer Didier

Student Projects

Virginia Blanton and Jack Spencer Walton, "St. Didier's Flowering Verge and the Rhetoric of Chaste Virility in a Modern Devotional: Joseph Royer's Homage to Medieval Langres" Different Visions: New Perspectives on Medieval Art 8 (2022).

Funding for this project was funded by the UMKC Undergraduate Research Associate Program.