8 June 2005
ST JEROME, full-page miniature on a leaf from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT BOOK OF HOURS ON VELLUM
[southern Netherlands c.1510]
168 x 117mm (leaf), 165 x 108mm (painted area). St Jerome, in a rough shirt and socks, kneeling in penitence and holding a stone with which to beat his breast, before a crucifix propped up within a crudely thatched stone shelter; his lion and his discarded red and blue cardinal's robes lie on the ground behind him; verdant trees close the landscape to the left. The border is imagined as a carved tawny wooden frame studded with pearls and adorned with precious metalwork set with emeralds, sapphires and rubies (worm hole in border, slight smudging on Jerome's forehead and leg).
The miniature is likely to have preceded either a prayer to St Jerome or the Psalter of St Jerome, a selection of penitential verses from the Psalms. In composition, it derives from a Jerome in penitence popularised by Simon Marmion in the 1470s; the jewelled border was developed by Marmion's contemporaries, the Master of Mary of Burgundy and the Master of the First Prayerbook of Maximilian. The patterns established by these artists retained their popularity into the mid- sixteenth century. The physical type of St Jerome and his clear outlining, along with the delicate, slightly transparent paint, recall the frontispiece of a great noted Missal made for the Emperor Maximilian or a member of his family (Mechelen, Stadsarchief, see M. Smeyers and J. van der Stock, Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts 1475-1550, 1996, no 5).
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