ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, ST QUENTIN AND ST LAWRENCE, three miniatures on leaves from a Book of Hours, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
196 x 135mm. 18 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 115 x 67mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, three one-line initials, one in pink and white on a burnished gold ground with an infill of a blue flower, two in liquid gold on grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, three similar two-line initials with marginal sprays of burnished gold leaves on hairline tendrils, THREE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES SURROUNDED BY FULL-PAGE BORDERS of hairline tendrils linking leaves and disks in burnished gold and flowers and fruit in red, pink, blue and green, interspersed with larger flower and acanthus sprays, by St Lawrence a parrot and a vignette of his martyrdom, with bars of burnished gold with foliate patterns in red, blue and white (slight rubbing to leaves with Sts John and Lawrence).
The three leaves have prayers with accompanying miniatures to St John the Evangelist, identified by the cup from which he expelled poison in the form of serpents and a defiant dragon, St Quentin, enduring some of the tortures that preceded his martyrdom, and St Lawrence, holding the gridiron on which he was roasted. They come from a Book of Hours for the use of Rome, sold Sotheby's, London, 14 July 1981, lot 118, which has been identified as providing 'some key pieces in the jigsaw of Amiens book production', Susie Nash, Between France and Flanders, Manuscript Illumination in Amiens in the Fifteenth Century, The British Library, 1999, p.168, see also pp.323-6.
These miniatures are by the most accomplished hand of the Book of Hours: they relate stylistically to the Master of Raoul d'Ailly, who dominated Amiens illumination in the second quarter of the fifteenth century. The facial features of the confidently drawn figures in carefully constructed settings, as well as the overall page design, connect these leaves to the Hours of Raoul d'Ailly itself. The d'Ailly Hours also has marginal vignettes in a vigorous and linear style, reminiscent of the martyrdom of St Lawrence on the present leaf. This marginal scene is by a more archaic hand, who was responsible for large miniatures on other leaves from the book, linked stylistically to an Amiens Hours of c.1410 (Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale Ms p. 12). These striking leaves, therefore, are fine products of a crucial transitional phase in Amiens illumination. (3)