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SCENES OF DEATH AND JUDGEMENT, full-page miniature opening the Office of the Dead from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
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SCENES OF DEATH AND JUDGEMENT, full-page miniature opening the Office of the Dead from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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SCENES OF DEATH AND JUDGEMENT, full-page miniature opening the Office of the Dead from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1500]

151 x 82mm. Below, two women are wrapping a body in a shroud; above, four scenes depicting the judgement of the deceased's soul, to be read anti-clockwise: the soul is burning in purgatory; a lady (surely the original owner of the intact manuscript) intercedes with the Archangel Michael during the weighing of the soul, presenting what seems to be a receipt (perhaps of Masses paid for the soul's salvation); the judgement goes in the soul's favour; the soul is guided away by an angel from an unhappy devil clutching the lady's receipt. Recto with 9 lines of text in gold, one historiated initial 'D' opening the Office of the Dead in silver and gold, four initials alternately in gold on blue grounds and blue on gold grounds; verso with 31 lines in brown ink ruled in red, 15 similar initials and an elaborate bar-border of light blue seashells against a ground of blue and gold, inhabited by a goldfinch (the miniature cropped closely to edges, not affecting text).

An iconographically rich and unusual scene from what must once have been a sumptuously decorated Renaissance Book of Hours. It seems likely that the patron who is depicted in the miniature must have specifically requested this highly personalised sequence of images. The illumination, with its confident, fine strokes of liquid gold and bold, bright palette, is reminiscent of the style of the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse, an illuminator active in Paris c.1490-c.1510, named from the Chronicle in Paris, BnF, ms Clair.481: F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp.274-7.
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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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