Beautifully Painted and Wonderfully Well-Preserved


(Paris: ca. 1500). 165 x 113 mm. (6 1/2 x 4 1/2"). Recto with 16 lines of text in a fine gothic script.

Matted. Rubrics in blue, line fillers, one one-line initial and two two-line initials in gold on pink and blue ground, one three-line initial in blue with pink and blue trefoils on a burnished gold ground, and WITH A HALF-PAGE MINIATURE IN THE STYLE OF JEAN PICHORE framed by a golden arch and columns, SURROUNDED BY A FULL BORDER featuring a hybrid creature, fruit, acanthus leaves, and brushed gold diamonds; the text side with a similarly styled border on fore-edge only. Text ink slightly faded on hair side, one or two negligible marginal blemishes, otherwise IN PRISTINE CONDITION.

This very skillfully painted and wonderfully well-preserved miniature closely resembles the work of Jean Pichore, a major figure among illuminators of the period. The painting depicts the traditional scene associated with the hour of None, in which Mary and Joseph bring their Child to the temple, to be inducted into the Jewish faith. Both the Virgin and Joseph are present in this scene, as is Simeon the high priest, who cradles the Christ Child in a white sheet. Mary kneels before the altar while Joseph stands slightly back (he is, rather conspicuously, the only member of the scene without a nimbus). The careful rendering of features, the rosiness of the child's flesh, and the fully realized interior space are done with very considerable skill and point to, at the very least, a talented follower of Pichore or member or his workshop. The Pichore style was often imitated by his contemporaries, but the quality of the painting here deserves special mention. Everything is clean and quiet, and magnification, rather than exposing inadequacy, emphasizes the deftness of the artist--this can be seen especially in the faces and in the shaded contours of the Christ Child's body.