(Flanders: ca. 1450). 157 x 110 mm. (6 1/8 x 4 3/8"). Single column, 14 lines in an attractive gothic book hand.
Attractively matted. Rubrics in red, two two-line gilt initials on pink and blue ground with white tracery, A SIX-LINE HISTORIATED INITIAL FEATURING THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN, the scene painted in grisaille and the letter painted pink with white tracery, all this on a gilt ground, a gilt and pink "L" shaped bar framing the text and terminating in sprays of gold bezants. Remains of backing on gutter edge. A little thumb soiling in the margins, a tiny smudge on one letter, but A VERY FINE LEAF, the paint fresh and bright and the ample margins very clean.
This charming historiated initial, depicting the "first" martyrdom of St. Sebastian, presents an excellent example of the technique known as "grisaille," involving monochrome painting that employs shades of gray (the term derives from the word "gris," French for "gray"). Normally executed using a black pigment such as lampblack and an inert white pigment, the technique first appeared in the late 13th century and experienced its greatest period of popularity from the second half of the 14th through the end of the 15th century. St. Sebastian was invoked for protection against the plague, making him one of the most popular saints of the Medieval period. Although he is invariably pictured as shot full of arrows, Sebastian did not die from these punctures, but rather was nursed back to health by St. Irene. He then returned to serve the emperor, who delivered the second and final martyrdom, having him clubbed to death. The present scene depicts the first attempted execution, with St. Sebastian in the center of the composition, flanked by two men in contemporary dress. Each man holds an enormous bow in front of their person, framing the saint and further accentuating his figure. It is interesting to note that the verso of this leaf contains a prayer to St. Judoc, a 7th century Breton prince who embraced a life of piety over royalty. The center of veneration for this saint was the Abbey of St. Josse in the diocese of Arras, France, quite near the Belgian border. (ST16379-010)
Add to Cart Price: $5,500.00
PJP Catalog: 78.026