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Associate of Jean Perréal (c.1450-1530)
Associate of Jean Perréal (c.1450-1530)
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Associate of Jean Perréal (c.1450-1530)

St Luke writing his Gospel, miniature from a Book of Hours, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Lyons?, first quarter 16th century]

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Associate of Jean Perréal (c.1450-1530)
St Luke writing his Gospel, miniature from a Book of Hours, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Lyons?, first quarter 16th century]
An expressive, unusual and accomplished miniature by an associate of the great French painter, sculptor and architect Jean Perréal.

170 x 109mm. The miniature opening the sequences from the Gospel of Luke in a Book of Hours, the verso with 13 lines of text and one initial in gold on a red background (the miniature mounted on vellum and paper, some minor staining to text scroll). In a double-sided mount. Framed. Provenance: Maggs Bros, Seven Centuries of Colour: 14th to 20th Century [...], 1951, no 17. Clipping from the catalogue pasted to the inside of the mount.

The miniature was attributed to the school of Jean Bourdichon in the 1951 Maggs catalogue, but there is much greater stylistic affinity with the work of Jean Perréal, architect, sculptor, poet, diplomat and one of the most important painters in France at the beginning of the 16th century. Court painter to the Bourbons, he later worked for Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I. Among his most well-known works is a miniature of the poet and royal 'valet de chambre' Pierre Sala (British Library, Stowe MS 955), and it is with this miniature that our St Luke finds close parallels: the fine, wispy hair and sculptural face, the full lips and nose (what Avril and Reynaud call a 'plasticité charnue de la bouche et du nez', see Les Manuscrits à peintures en France. 1430-1515, 1993, pp.365-9), and large well-defined irises punctuated by strong, black pupils. The palette of soft pinks, greens and blues is also found in the work of Perréal, while the crammed composition, with St Luke filling the frame, and only the bull's horns visible in the background, is certainly influenced by the turn-of-the century taste for three-quarter figures, as seen in many Bourdichon miniatures.

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