VIRGIN AND CHILD, ROUNDEL WITH FOLIAGE SPRAYS - BORDER CUT FROM AN ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[North-Eastern Italy, ?Venice, last quarter 15th century]
54 x 280mm. A central laurel wreath contains a half-length figure of the Virgin wearing a blue mantle lined with red, holding the naked Christ Child, a wicker fence and rose hedge behind them, luxuriant foliage of dark blue, green and crimson curl symmetrically to either side and terminate in large fruits of liquid gold, golden disks with flower-shaped penwork surrounds fill the spaces (edges slightly cropped).
The rich colouring and forms of the border decoration indicate an origin in north-eastern Italy, probably the Veneto. The fantastic foliage forms, the penwork infilling, the decoration of drapery and foliage with white dots, and border roundels framed with laurel wreaths can all be paralleled in a Diurnal written for the Monastery of S. Servelo in Venice at the end of the fifteenth century (O. Pächt and J.J.G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Oxford, 1970. II, no. 572).