(Bruges, ca. 1465). 181 x 127 mm. (7 1/8 x 5"). Single column, 16 lines of text (17 on verso) in a very careful, attractive gothic book hand.
Rubrics in pink (or faded red), two two-line initials in blue, magenta, and burnished gold, three lines with undulating line fillers in blue and gold, both sides of the leaf with a three-quarter panel border incorporating foliage, blossoms, and ivy leaves on hairline stems, the vertical part of this frame with a bar border composed of colors and burnished gold terminating at top and bottom in colorful acanthus leaves, and WITH TWO SMALL BUT VERY PLEASING MINIATURE PAINTINGS, SAINT STEPHEN ON THE RECTO AND SAINT LAWRENCE ON THE VERSO. IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION, the paint without any perceptible erosion and the leaf entirely fresh and clean.
This leaf is characteristic work from the circle of Willem Vrelant, the leading purveyor of books of private devotion in Bruges during the third quarter of the 15th century. His leading position among Flemish illuminators of the time is indicated by the considerable number of manuscripts illustrated in his manner by other miniaturists both in Bruges and in nearby cities in Flanders. The illuminator of our Book of Hours shows a number of distinctive stylistic traits. Among these are a preference for boldly patterned cloth backdrops, tessellated flooring, landscapes filled with stylized bushes and trees, and persisting prominent architectural constructions that frame the subject, frequently in a corner (in these leaves, it is a waist-high outdoor wall or an indoor feature resembling wainscoting). The inclination for strong geometrical patterning is manifested in the artist's angular treatment of human figures and their garments. Saint Lawrence and Saint Stephen are paired together here, just as they are in the famous paintings of Fra Angelico in the Vatican chapel of Pope Nicholas V. Both were martyrs and both were deacons, Stephen serving the first community of Christians in Jerusalem, Lawrence ministering to the first Christians of Rome. They are here dressed in similar deacon outfits, royal blue tunics trimmed with gold over long white gowns which crumple about their feet. The artist has varied his treatment, centralizing the backdrop for Lawrence, who holds in his hand the gridiron on which he was grilled, and placing off center the angle of the room in which Stephen stands. (ST11151a)
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PJP Catalog: 70.444