23 November 2010
MAKING AND TASTING WINE, full-page miniature by THE SPANISH FORGER, on a cutting from a 15th-century choirbook, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1900]234 x 164mm. Verso with four 4-line staves and penwork initial (surface slightly cockled, small loss of gold in lower border, hole affecting figure in right foreground). Framed and glazed.
A quintessential scene celebrating an imaginary medieval golden age created by the so-called Spanish Forger, 'one of the most successful, skillful and prolific forgers of all time'. As such his works have become collectable in their own right. A painter of 'medieval' miniatures and panels, the Forger was active in Paris from the 1890s to 1920s (see W. Voelkle, The Spanish Forger, exh. cat. Pierpont Morgan Library, 1978). Although there are codices by him, the Forger is mainly known for leaves and cuttings painted on vellum leaves from medieval choirbooks. He created original compositions in a distinctive style, sometimes 'distressing' the surface to give an impression of age.
Several of his compositions depict wine-making and the present lot is closest in design to L70 in the Morgan catalogue, whilst the figure treading grapes is seen again in L44, both echoing the equivalent figure in the Forger's inspiration and source, the fresco of The Drunkenness of Noah by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Campo Santo at Pisa, known to him through the chromolithograph published by Paul Mantz, Les chefs d'ouevre de la peinture italienne, 1870.
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