PIETÀ, miniature on a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
176 x 120mm. Large arch-topped miniature showing the Pietà, the body of Christ lying across the lap of the Virgin, a lady kneeling in prayer to the left, set within interior bordered by pillared arch with green chequered floor and silvered windows, framed with three-sided border of liquid gold, blue and pink with white decoration, with four lines of text and three-line initial of blue with trefoil infill on burnished gold ground, the whole surrounded by three-quarter bar-border of liquid gold and full-page border with sprays of naturalistic flowers and hairline tendrils with ivy-leaf and disc terminals in burnished gold. On the recto, 10 lines of text (ruled for 17) written in black ink in a gothic bookhand, rubrics in red and four one-line initials in burnished gold on grounds of blue and red (a few small areas of rubbing or pigment loss, most noticeable in flowers lower left, small smudge about donor's head).
The miniature marks the opening to the devotion Obsecro te. Whilst the choice of the Pietà miniature for the portrayal of the original female owner was popular in the workshops of Rouen in the 1480s (see Walters 226, f.124), the style of illumination suggests the Book of Hours from which it came was produced in Burgundy. The distinctive palette and use of hatching are characteristics associated with the work of the Master of the Burgundian Prelates and his collaborators. The Master was named from a group of manuscripts first brought together by Nicole Reynaud, including works for ecclesiastics from the great Burgundian families such as Rolin; many varied hands are associated with his circle, seen in numerous Books of Hours produced for the laity for use in the dioceses of Autun and Langres (see, F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à Peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp. 393-98).