NATIVITY, a miniature on one of two facing leaves from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
105 x 75mm. Two leaves, forming an opening from a Book of Hours, both pages with FULL-PAGE BORDERS with sprays of acanthus in semi-grisaille and naturalistic fruit and flowers interspersed with gold disks and a bird; an ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURE FRAMED WITH GOLD, the facing text leaf with 17 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand, justification: 70 x 43mm, blue and burnished gold one- and two-line intials and a large initial in grisaille on a burnished gold ground with scrolling foliate infill (slight cropping at outer borders, minor crease from outer border into Virgin's robe, occasional small areas of abrasion). Framed.
The Nativity miniature accompanies the opening verses of prime from the Hours of the Virgin. This charming and decorative scene, with its demure and sweet-faced figures, is characteristic of the work of the Mildmay Master, so-called after a Book of Hours in Chicago (Newberry Library, Ms 35). An associate of Willem Vrelant, one of the most influential illuminators in Bruges in the third quarter of the 15th century, the Mildmay Master collaborated with him on commissions for the Duke of Burgundy and members of his court. The use of grisaille, notably in the monochrome drapery and semi-grisaille in the borders, reflects the height of Burgundian court fashion. Vrelant and his workshop worked in various forms of grisaille (see the Ingoldisthorpe Psalter sold in these rooms 11 July 2000, lot 34), showing the same colour preference as Philip the Good's monochrome Book of Hours now in The Hague (K.B. Ms 76 F 2) illuminated by Jean le Tavernier.
JUNE, a Calendar leaf with a spinning harpy in a panel border, from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern France, c.1470/80]
115 x 102mm. 17 lines written on recto and verso in gold leaf and blue ink in a gothic bookhand, between six verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 90 x 68mm, two-line initials in gold on blue and red grounds, both sides with panel border of flower-sprays and a harpy spinning wool (some oxidization to faces). Double-sided frame. (2)