ST LUKE PAINTING THE VIRGIN, miniature on a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, c.1455]
107 x 72mm (4 ¼ x 2 ? in.). Arch-topped miniature depicting St Luke at his easel painting an iconic image of the Virgin with a winged lion at his feet, the text below opening the extracts from Luke’s Gospel (the top border cropped and a segment taken from elsewhere in the original manuscript reattached, the other borders slightly cropped and with two minute losses, small losses to the pigment). Laid down.
The page layout, decorative forms, and the treatment of faces and figures in the present miniature are characteristic of the Master of Jean Rolin II (fl.1445-65), best known for the missal produced for the cardinal-bishop of Autun (Lyon, Bib. Mun., MS. 51). An unusual and striking feature here is that the illuminator has set the scene in a contemporary domestic interior adopted from early Netherlandish painting, in particular the panels of Robert Campin (c.1375-1444). The elegant proliferation of domestic details, with everyday objects – including the rich hanging of woven gold cloth behind Luke, the carved stone effigy placed above the door, and the intricacy of the tiling and window-panes alongside the fireplace framing dancing flames – lovingly rendered, represents a direct inheritance from the Flemish master (see C. Reynolds, ‘Netherlandish patterns in fifteenth-century Paris: Campin, van der Weyden and the Bedford Workshop’, Von Kunst und Temperament: Festschrift für Eberhard König, 2007, pp. 216-255). Charmingly, the artist has mistakenly furnished St Luke with the winged lion of the Evangelist Mark, instead of his customary attribute, the ox.