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SEVEN CALENDAR MINIATURES, from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
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SEVEN CALENDAR MINIATURES, from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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SEVEN CALENDAR MINIATURES, from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris or Bourges, c.1400]

Each c.35 x 35 mm, miniatures from the rectos, the versos with border decoration of vine leaves in gold, blue and red on thick painted stems (small paint losses to November). Mounted on four cards in a blue cloth-covered box, gilt lettering-piece.

PROVENANCE:
(a) PETER BIRMANN (1758-1844), Basel painter and art dealer specialising in medieval miniatures in the wake of the French Revolution, and first recorded owner of the miniatures by Jean Fouquet from the dismembered Hours of Etienne Chevalier. (b) DANIEL BURKHARDT-WILDT (1752-1819), Basel silk manufacturer, artist, and co-founder of the Basler Künstlergeschellschaft; these calendar scenes, and three large miniatures from the same Book of Hours, depicting the Annunciaton, Visitation, and Nativity, were among 475 illuminated cuttings assembled into a huge album for him by Birman in France, at a cost of 444 livres tournois; the album was bequeathed to his descendants and remained their property until dismembered for sale at Sotheby's 25 April 1983, when the present cuttings were lot 100; bought by Quaritch, presumably for Phillips. (c) NEIL F. PHILLIPS, Q.C. (1924-1997), of Montreal, New York, and Virginia, his no 1065, resold at Sotheby's 2 December 1997, lot 62.

MINIATURES:
The three miniatures associated with these finely painted calendar quatrefoils relate to compositions in the Très belles heures of John, Duke of Berry, described as by Jacquemart de Hesdin in the Duke's inventory in 1403 (Brussels, KBR 1160-61). Very few artists were named in the ducal inventories but Jacquemart was also credited with the Grandes heures (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 919). Jacquemart, known to have been in the Duke's service from 1384 to 1409, seems to have been based in Bourges but probably also worked in Paris. The illuminator of these miniatures drew more realistically proportioned and articulated figures, not just forthe vigorous peasants laboring through the months but also for the elegant figure of Virgo, and relied more on line to detail faces. In this he comes closer to the Luçon Master, named from the Pontifical of Etienne Loypeau, Bishop of Luçon (Paris, BnF. Ms lat. 8886). For these illuminators see E. Taburet-Delahaye and F. Avril, Paris 1400, les arts sous Charles VI, 2004. These richly coloured miniatures are typical of the fusion of styles in one of the greatest periods of French illumination, fostered by the Duke of Berry and his contemporaries in Paris and their regional domains.

The miniatures illustrate the Occupations of the Months and the Signs of the Zodiac for five of the twelve months; the narrow gold framing aroundthe top, bottom and outer side of each cutting demonstrates that they were paired within a single gold-edged rectangle, the Occupation on the left, the Zodiac on the right. By examining the reverses of the cuttings it can be seen that the man feasting used to be joined to Aquarius and the man sowing to Scorpio; the other cuttings come from three different months.
The months and their subjects are: January, a man feasting and Aquarius, emptying his water pot; February, a man warming his feet by a hearth; August, Virgo, the young woman; October, a man sowing seed and Scorpio, the scorpion; November, pannage, a man knocking acorns from a tree to feed his pigs.
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni
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