ST MICHAEL VANQUISHING THE DEVIL, full-page miniature cut from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Tours, c.1490]
170 x 120mm (6 ¾ x 4 ¾ in.). A full-page miniature depicting St Michael vanquishing the devil, within a full border inhabited by a demon with a lute. Verso with the suffrage to St Michael, 15 lines of text, rubrics in red, initials alternately in blue or red (some minor loss of pigment, especially to the sky, the devil's face scratched, some smudging to lower border affecting the lute-playing demon, marginal staining). Framed.
AN EARLY WORK BY THE MOST FAMOUS AND ACCOMPLISHED ILLUMINATOR OF LATE FIFTEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE, JEAN BOURDICHON (C.1457-1521). Court painter to four successive French kings, from Louis XI to François I, he inherited Jean Fouquet's position at court and his early work shows a conspicuous debt to the great master's style. His palette is a soft and subtle blend of light pinks and yellows; his faces are rendered with striking luminosity, the features enhanced with blushes of red to the lips and cheeks. Already at this relatively early stage in his career, we see Bourdichon's predilection for the interplay between light and shadow: St Michael, gaze downcast, is clad in a glistening golden armour embellished with sophisticated 'ciselures' (almost identical to a later representation of the saint in the Hours of Louis XII, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum MS. 79A). As he raises his sword to strike down the vanquished demon, his exposed side catches the light, casting a shadow across his left side and shield. The full border of scrolling acanthus, more akin to the Parisian-style borders in the c.1480-85 Katherine Hours (Getty Museum MS. 6), is another indicator of an early stage in the artist's career: Bourdichon would later adopt recognisably tourangelles borders, or eschew them altogether.
This lot and lot 150 were two of three inserted leaves – ff. 7v and 20v respectively – from a Book of Hours for the use of Rouen sold at Sotheby's on 6 July 2000, lot 82 (on these miniatures, their attribution as Bourdichon and dating see also N. Herman, Jean Bourdichon (1457-1521): Tradition, Transition, Renewal, New York University, January 2014, vol. II , p. 19, no 41).