THE ANNUNCIATION, 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 the Annunciation, with the Virgin kneeling beside a prie-dieu, within a full border inhabited by grotesques. Reverse (originally the recto) with the Ave Regina Caelorum, 15 lines of text, rubrics in red, initials alternately in blue or red (some minor loss of pigment, specifically to the upper border and to the Virgin's cloak, marginal staining, outer border slightly cropped). 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. Reminiscent of the artist's representation of the same scene in the earlier Katherine Hours (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS. 6), the composition bears all the hallmarks of Bourdichon's style: the flesh tones of the kneeling Virgin and of the Angel Gabriel are of lead white enhanced with touches of vermillion; their hair streaked with wisps of gold; the Virgin's blue cloak heightened with long directional strokes of painted gold. As with the previous miniature of St Michael, Bourdichon makes fine use of light and shadow: the Virgin, kneeling in front of an architectural niche steeped in darkness, casts a subtle shadow against the prie-dieu beside her, while the Holy Spirit illuminates her face.
This lot and lot 153 were two of three inserted leaves – ff. 20v and 7v 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).