Illuminated miniature of the Adoration of the Magi, from a Book of Hours on vellum.Paris, Master of Jacques de Besancon and his associates, ca. 1480-90.

PARIS ARTIST

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In a gently arched compartment the artist painted a moving and joyful scene of the three Kings offering their elaborate goldsmiths' works as gifts to the Christ Child. The setting is kept simple, just the roof and a wall of the shelter in a landscape; Joseph is absent. The technique is very refined, the faces worked out in detail. The garments of the Magi are covered with hatching in liquid gold, whereas the cloak of the Virgin, who humbly sits on the ground, is highlighted with just a single gold line. Underneath the miniature the artist painted a blue foliate initial 'D' on burnished gold ground to mark the text of the sext. A small gold dentelle initial and a round line-filler complete the lay-out. Four lines of text in brown ink, textualis. Ruling in pink ink. The rich border consists of blue and gold acanthus leaves and flowers painted on the bare vellum and liquid gold roundels with colourful flowers. A butterfly, a flying heron and a jumping dog appear in the border on the left. The verso features a charming panel border in the same style, with a drake in the centre. Here, there are 18 lines of text, with two foliate blue initials on a gold field and four dentelle initials (gold, on a red and blue field). Size: 183 x 126 mm. The style is typical of manuscript illumination in Paris from the last two decades of the 15th century. The Master of Jacques de Besançon belongs to the pivotal artists in Paris. As the successor of the famous Maitre François, whose workshop he continued, he served many aristocratic persons and even rulers of his time in France and England. His work follows the traditional principles of illuminating, hardly influenced by the 'modern' standards of three dimensionality, Renaissance architecture, fashion and Flemish borders. By continuing his predecessors concepts, he created a superb and vast oeuvre of embellished illumination. As Fr. Avril notes, the Master of Jacques de Besançon distinguishes himself by a brighter set of colours, his use of gold and azure blue is more exuberant, the soft faces of his figures, though motionless and stereotype, are rendered with a porcelaneous air. His masterly brush painted with the greatest perfection and delicacy. Apart from this, his knowledge of iconography is astonishing. By 1492 the printer Antoine Vérard asked him to illuminate works for the royal court. Due to the apparently enormous pressure of work of the incunabula he had to finish, the finesse and perfection of the artist's style gradually decline in the following years. Sext of the Hours of the Virgin. Some thumbing at the extremes of the margins. Literature Cf. F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520. Exhibit. Catalogue Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 1993/4. Paris 1993, p. 256, ff. J. Plummer, The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts 1420-1530 from American Collections. New York, London, 1982, figs. 98-91a. N° de ref. de la librería

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Título: Illuminated miniature of the Adoration of ...

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