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(France [probably Rouen]: ca. 1475). 152 x 110 mm. (6 x 4 1/4"). Single column, 19 lines in a fine batarde hand.
Rubrics in blue, three two-line initials painted white and pink in a script-like manner on gold ground and embellished with flowers, WITH A SMALL MINIATURE DEPICTING THE VIRGIN AND CHILD WITH A FEMALE PATRON, the woman shown in a red gown and black headdress, kneeling before the Virgin and Child, THE SCENE SURROUNDED BY A THREE-QUARTER BORDER of alternating blue and gold acanthus leaves with blue, pink, and red flowers, a small hybrid creature and a bird hidden within, the verso with a similar border along the fore edge. VIRTUALLY PRISTINE with just a hint of thumbing in the border.
Attributable to the workshop of the Master of Robert Gaguin, this beautifully preserved leaf features a small but carefully rendered image of a female patron kneeling before the Virgin and Child. The unknown woman kneels very close to the Mother and Child, her gaze averted downward in deference, her hands in prayer, almost resting on the Virgin's knee. Patron portraits are important to understanding trends in consumerism and readership of the time--particularly in relation to Medieval women, whose private lives and contemplations are glimpsed in images such as this. The scribal hand here is also very fine, and the animals in the border are painted with considerable charm and skill--it is clearly from a manuscript of quality. Named for his work on an exquisite copy of Robert Gaguin's translation of "De Bello Gallico" presented to King Charles VIII, our eponymous artist is known for large historical works and occasionally Books of Hours made for members of the French royal circle. His style is close to that of the Master of Jacques of Besançon, although, as Avril and Reynaud note, the illuminations of the Master of Robert Gaguin tend to be more modern in appearance and less dependent on tradition. He was known to have collaborated with other prominent illuminators of the day and also worked with the publisher Antoine Vérard on illuminating special copies of printed editions for the wealthy elite. (ST14397b)