TEXT FROM THE OPENING OF COMPLINE
AN ILLUMINATED VELLUM MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH A LOVELY MINIATURE OF THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN, FROM A FINE BOOK OF HOURS IN LATIN AND FRENCH
Price: 7,000.00 USD
Paris: ca. 1450. 159 x 108 mm. (6 1/4 x 4 1/4"). Single column, four lines of text on the recto, 15 on the verso, in a very pleasing gothic book hand. Attractively matted. Rubrics in red, verso with two two-line and five one-line initials as well as four line fillers, all in colors and burnished gold, the same side with a swirling quarter panel border featuring flowers, leaves, strawberries, and many burnished gold ivy leaves and berries on hairline stems, the recto with a large three-line "C" in blue and white with enclosed spray of blue and white violets, the initial on a burnished gold ground, and with a one-line initial and a line filler in colors and gold, recto also WITH A FULL SWIRLING BORDER of acanthus leaves, flowers, strawberries, and thistles ENCLOSING A BEAUTIFULLY REALIZED ILLUMINATED MINIATURE OF THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN (measuring approximately 77 x 54 mm.). IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION, everything fresh, clean, and bright. This is an enormously appealing miniature, rendered with great skill and unusual detail. The demure Virgin is shown in blue robes and a golden crown kneeling before God enthroned in majesty, the latter holding an orb and blessing her, while fiery seraphim and the rest of the heavenly host watch from behind a purple tapestry screen. Our artist, who has the imagination and daring to compose scenes differently from his contemporaries, does not, as is more typical, show the Virgin in the center flanked by the heavenly father and son, nor does he choose, as usual, the moment when the crown is placed on her brow. Instead, he limits the major figures to two, placed on a diagonal to one another. The heavy crown is already on the Mary's head, which bows under its weight and in reverent thanks, while God the Father raises a hand in blessing. While we are, of course, absorbed by the action in the foreground, it is in the audience of angels that we see especially how good our painter is. Our eyes are drawn to the red-orange seraphim, who provide a rich contrast to the colors chosen for the main part of the miniature (soft pink and purple for God the Father, pale brown and pink for the throne and floor, lavender for the screen). And behind the seraphim, the artist has used a swath of dark blue as a particularly successful visual context for a row of 10 angels whose bodies and faces emerge from the background in a ghostly way. A superficial look does not pick up the individuated figures, but a more studied inspection reveals that we are in the presence of a great many heavenly shadows. We can see how deft the artist is by how carefully he has applied his paint, but even more noteworthy is his clever design involving three zones of action, an aspect assuring that the miniature will repay close and protracted study.