CHRIST APPEARING BEFORE THE VIRGIN, WITH PIERRE DE CORNIBUS AND MAGDALAINE LOMBARDE, large frontispiece from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
450 x 276mm. Within an elaborate renaissance frame, in a portico opening onto landscape, the Risen Christ appears to his Mother; in the left foreground, the Franciscan, Pierre de Cornibus, kneels presented by St Peter; in the right foreground, the Franciscan nun, Magdalaine Lombarde, kneels presented by St Mary Magdalene (slight losses from surface, mostly affecting borders).
Pierre de Cornibus was born in Beaune in Burgundy but spent most of his life in the Franciscan Convent in Paris, where he was a doctor of theology in the university. His tombstone, before the high altar in the conventual church, recorded his date of death as 21 May 1549 and that he was a benefactor of the church. Sister Magdalaine Lombarde was presumably a member of either the convent of Lourcine-lez-St-Marcel, in the Faubourg St-Marcel or of the great house of Longchamp, slightly further from the capital. Her fashionably shaped wimple and delicately crimped veiling make it less likely that she was one of the reformed, Collettine community of Ave Maris, founded in Paris in 1485. Her initials at the corners of this miniature indicate that the volume which this vast miniature adorned was made at her expense. This is an imposing example of Parisian renaissance illumination and would have been a costly commission.
The figure style, careful modelling of flesh, bold colour and the complexity of architectural detail and decorative gilding relate the illumination to the work of the Parisian illuminator Étienne Collault and his followers, who worked for members of the royal court in the 1520s. The use of banderoles with inscriptions also features in some of Collault's most intellectually complex compositions: see, for example, the miniature Ecclesia Lutherana in the Panégyrique de François Ieri (Chantilly, Musée Condé Ms 892), L'Art du manuscrit de la renaissance en France, exh. cat. Musée Condé, 2001, p.37. In the present leaf the scrolls issuing from the mouths of Pierre and Magdalaine are verses from Psalm 141, and those caried by the angel and spoken by Christ carry the opening words of, respectively, the Eastertide anthem of the Virgin and the Introit for masses of the Virgin. The miniature may have introduced a service-book devoted to feasts of the Mother of Christ.