AN ILLUMINATED VELLUM MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH EXQUISITE MINIATURES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JOHN THE EVANGELIST, FROM AN EXTREMELY FINE BOOK OF HOURS IN LATIN.
TEXT FROM THE SUFFRAGES.(France, Tours or Paris, ca. 1530). 114 x 64 mm (4 1/2 x 2 1/2"). Single column, 21 lines of text, written in a very fine tiny upright humanistic hand.
Attractively matted. Rubrics in red, four paragraph marks in black or gold against a gold or black background, four line fillers in black and gold or gold and red (one in the shape of a knotted rope, another a pruned branch), two two-line initials in black on a gold ground with red filigree embellishment or gold on a black ground with wispy gray decoration, text on both sides within a knotted ropework border in gold and black with convoluted tassels at the bottom. RECTO WITH AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE SMALL MINIATURE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST in his brown camel hair shirt with a maroon mantle, holding a book and pointing his finger prophetically at his symbol, the Lamb of God (a small white sheep with a nimbus), resting on top of the book; these figures set against a beautifully detailed forested backdrop, and the whole within a simple gold frame (the miniature measuring approximately 21 x 20 mm.). THE VERSO WITH A LOVELY SMALL MINIATURE OF SAINT JOHN in a simple white shirt and maroon mantle, the Evangelist raising his right hand in a tranquil salute, his left hand grasping a gleaming chalice from which emerges a vicious rampant green reptilian bird, the scene set against a rich black background, the whole within a simple gold frame (the miniature measuring approximately 22 x 19 mm.). IN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE CONDITION.
This is an especially appealing leaf in that it contains two superb, delicately realized miniatures. Particularly impressive is the depiction of the background of the John the Baptist scene, where the artist has used three different greens to make his trees three-dimensional and consequently to give the scene a genuine sense of depth. At least as remarkable is the painter's ability to individuate the hairs on John's shirt, face, and head. The hideous green creature in John the Evangelist's chalice is a variation of the more usual image depicted of several dark snakes wriggling over the brim. The artist's delicacy and subtleness can be seen again here: the painter has used tiny slivers of a lighter shade of green along the top of the dragon's body to indicate reflected light from above, and this technique not only keeps the green from being lost against its black background, but also pulls our eye immediately toward the one focus of discordance in the miniature. (ST9378-4b)