(France [probably Besançon]: 3rd quarter of 15th century). 239 x 165 mm. (9 3/8 x 6 1/2"). Single column, 15 lines in an elegant gothic book hand.
Rubrics in dark pink, line-enders in dark pink and blue highlighted with a gilt bezant, four one-line initials and one two-line initial in burnished gold on dark pink and blue ground with white tracery, one three-line initial in shades of pink with white tracery, filled with flowers painted red or blue, all on a gold ground, verso with panel border of delicate hairline vines terminating in gilt bezants and ivy and a blue and gold acanthus, recto with A HALF-PAGE MINIATURE OF PENTECOST in a thin, arch-topped gilt frame, with several haloed figures kneeling in a chapel or church with well-defined gothic architecture predominantly painted mint green, a dove emerging from the central window and emitting rays of orange, SURROUNDED BY A FULL BORDER consisting of hairline vines terminating in gold bezants and ivy, colorful acanthus, white and blue flowers, three birds (including a large peacock), and a small grasshopper, the text below the miniature further framed by a "U"-shaped bar of gold, pink, and blue extending the full height of the miniature. Minor chipping to paint (particularly in blue areas, as frequently seen), a couple of trivial smudges in the border, but no other condition issues worth mentioning, the miniature beautiful and clean, with rich colors, gleaming gold, and well-preserved details.
This splendid miniature from an unusually large Book of Hours is finely painted and features a touching array of emotional responses from the Virgin and Apostles as they witness the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Although the Virgin is not centrally located (as is quite often case in Pentecost miniatures), she is differentiated from her companions in other ways: she is the only person shown with her hands together in prayer, and her expression is serene; by contrast, her companions show various concerned or perplexed expressions: some have furrowed brows, others avert their gaze in humility, and one incredulous Apostle cranes his head above the cluster of nimbuses to get a better view. The red flames emanating from the dove, described in Acts as "tongues of fire," appear especially intense against the memorably detailed green interior. This leaf also contains several animals hidden in the decorative borders, including a large peacock with a golden tail, which appears directly beside the Virgin. In addition to its royal connotations, the peacock is also linked to the Virgin based on the belief that its flesh was incorruptible. Stylistically, this leaf can be localized to the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, and is closely related (if not directly attributable) to an atelier specializing in Books of Hours made for the Use of Besançon and most likely situated in that city (see Avril and Reynaud, p. 197). The similarities are especially apparent in the figures' faces, which are slightly puffy in appearance and have distinct, slit-like eyes. As noted by Avril and Reynaud, the unnamed master of this atelier was deeply indebted to the Master of Morgan 293, a talented Burgundian illuminator active in the second quarter of the 15th century, whose name derives from a particularly lovely Book of Hours made for the Use of Besançon. Though the composition of present scene and the Pentecost depicted in Morgan 293 are different, there are definite similarities in the facial molding and the definition of the hair, which appears darker at the roots and looks combed back. Regardless of the artist's identity, the present miniature is an excellent representation of a distinct regional style, extremely attractive, and it offers numerous points of interest for both the scholar and more casual viewer to contemplate. (ST17060U)
Add to Cart Price: $9,500.00
PJP Catalog: 79.018