THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
The exterior of the wings were probably originally painted en grisaille, but no trace remains of either. An unrelated exterior right wing painted in this form, also by the Master of Dreux-Budé, depicts the three kneeling female donors very much as they appear in the Musée Fabre wing: Jeanne Peschard and her daughters Jacquette (wearing the same butterfly henin headdress) and Catherine Budé; it was discovered by Charles Sterling (see fig. 3).3 Jeanne Peschard kneels at a prie-dieu which bears an escutcheon with her coat-of-arms, identifying her as married, which enables her to be identified, and which enabled the triptych to be identified as well.
Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard married in 1422. Both were from prominent Parisian families. Jeanne was the daughter of Jean Peschard and Jeanne Gencin. The Budé family came from Auxerre, but were established in Paris by the end of the 14th century, where their wealth stemmed from the wine trade. Dreux Budé was Notary and Secretary to King Charles VII, and named audiencier of the Royal Chancellery in 1440. He continued to serve the king until Charles VII’s death in 1461, and remained in the service of the Royal Court until his own death in about 1475–76. He was at the peak of his power and wealth in the 1450s, when he held the office of dean of merchants, and was in charge of the municipality of Paris. Their milieu was closely involved with the commissioning of major works of art. The youngest daughter Catherine (d. 1452) married in 1444 Étienne Chevalier, who commissioned Jean Fouquet to create a Book of Hours (1452–1561) and the celebrated Melun Diptych of circa 1452–55.4
From their arrival in Paris onwards, the Budés always lived in the parish of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais. In the middle of the 15th century, Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard founded a chapel dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Christopher in the chevet behind the main altar of the parish church, intending it to house their tombs. The presence of Saint Christopher in the present wing, presenting the Donor, makes it highly likely that the triptych to which it belonged was intended for this chapel.5 Its proportions are those of a work commissioned for a secondary chapel, and the figure of Christ in the central panel corresponds to the point where a priest would have elevated the Host while celebrating Mass. The Dreux Budé Triptych has traditionally been dated 1454, the presumed date of the foundation of the Budé chapel. In a document of 1453 however, the chapel is described as de nouvel ('newly built'), which makes it more likely that both the chapel and the triptych intended for it were commissioned a few years earlier.6
The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych was probably also responsible for the design and part of the execution of the Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris in the Louvre, Paris (see fig. 2), which is perhaps the most celebrated of all Parisian 15th-century panel paintings, and which has usually been dated circa 1455, but may have been started a few years earlier. Like the Dreux Budé Triptych, its authorship has been assigned to a nom de guerre: The Master of the Crucifixion of the Paris Parlement. Between them, they represent the most important surviving examples in panel painting of the absorption in Paris of the latest pictorial advances made in The Netherlands, and mark the arrival of the Early Renaissance in Paris. This migration of artistic talent was due to the sphere of influence of the Burgundian court, whose territories included the prosperous cities of The Netherlands, and in artistic terms especially Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Valenciennes and Tournai, but also Dijon and Beaune to the south-east of Paris, the latter the destination for Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgment. Rogier, together with The Master of Flémalle, was the most dominant of the Netherlandish artistic personalities, whose ideas and designs influenced The Master of 1451 in Picardy, Simon Marmion in Valenciennes, and André d’Ypres, who moved from Tournai to Paris by the mid-1440s. Tournai was not formally part of the Duchy of Burgundy, being directly dependent on the French crown, and the connections between the city and Paris would perhaps have facilitated the move.
Since the panels comprising the present triptych were identified by Sterling, the author has been named as The Master of the Dreux-Budé Triptych, probably author too of the Parlement Crucifixion, and of other mid-15th-century Parisian works, including designs for stained glass for the nave of the church of Saint-Séverin, and of manuscript illuminations. His work has also been associated with the output of an artist of a younger generation, known as the Master of Coëtivy, who is thought to have contributed to the Parlement Crucifixion. Sterling suggested that the Dreux Budé triptych could have been the work of Conrad de Vulcop, the Utrecht-born peintre ordinaire of King Charles VII. A stronger candidate for the Master of the Dreux Budé is André d’Ypres, who was mentioned in Amiens in 1425–26, and who was admitted as a Free Master in the Tournai Guild on 13 September 1428. He settled in Paris by circa 1445, but died at Mons while returning from a pilgrimage to Rome in July 1450. At this date the Parlement Crucifixion would probably still have been in progress, and his son Nicolas (or Colin) d’Amiens could have finished it, information supported by the recent discovery that a payment was set aside for the painting in February 1449, well over a year before André d’Ypres’ likely departure for Rome and fifteen months before his death.7 This would account for the presence of two hands in the work, one of a younger generation, and would make it likely that Nicolas d’Amiens should be identified as the Master of Coëtivy. Like the Parlement Crucifixion, the Dreux-Budé Triptych is profoundly influenced by Rogier van der Weyden. While coeval with Rogier’s later work, it particularly reflects characteristics of Rogier’s output in Tournai in the early 1430s, when it is likely that both artists lived there. While the identity of André d’Ypres as the Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych is plausible, it cannot be proved (nor that of his son as the Coëtivy Master), but we can at least be confident that the Master was a painter of considerable talent, active in Paris around 1450, and steeped in the art of Rogier van der Weyden, probably when the latter was in Tournai.8
The complete Dreux Budé triptych presents a cohesive compositional whole. The horizon lines of the two wings correspond with each other and with the central panel, and in each the principal figures are set back a little from the picture-plane, with subsidiary figures beneath them in the lower foreground. The donors in each are set in the same relationship with the figure of Christ, whose almond-shaped physiognomy is identical in both. The artist was clearly acutely aware how the balance of colours should work harmoniously throughout the overall composition of the triptych. In both wings red and dark blues in the draperies worn by figures are set in contrast to animate their arrangement, and they and greens work in harmony in the central panel. This use of colour to achieve harmonious compositional balance is a wholly Rogierian characteristic at this date, and shows how well the painter had absorbed Rogier van der Weyden’s precepts.
The composition of the present left wing is however less obviously Rogierian when viewed independently. For one thing, no surviving night scene by Rogier is known, let alone one from this early date, and the present work must be one of the earliest nocturnal settings in Northern European panel painting, if not the earliest, at least by a major hand.9 There are however, noticeable similarities between the present work and the same subject depicted, as it should be, at night, illuminated by torches, in a Manuscript illumination in the Turin-Milan Hours closely associated with Jan or Hubert van Eyck, and variously dated between the early 1420s and the late 1430s. There may well have been intermediate sources for the present work in manuscript illumination.
The subject, related in Matthew, 26, is set under a starry night sky with a crescent moon. Low hills separate the action in the foreground from the walled town of Jerusalem, with gothic spires. Several hidden light sources illuminate the bases of buildings behind the walls. the town gate has a Romanesque arch and before it are torches which illuminate the walls flanking the gate and the road leafing to it, where several figures may be seen. There are several torches held aloft by the soldiers come to arrest Our Lord (`a great multitude with swords and staves'). Those nearer the viewer, and a lantern illuminate the their faces or the sides of their heads, and are reflected in helmets. The high priest's servant who has just just had his ear lopped off by an unnamed Disciple fumbles on his knees in the immediate foreground for his broken lantern, and perhaps for his ear, while raising his right hand to the wound (he is looking in the wrong place; the ear is closer to Christ's feet). The Disciple, wearing a satisfied expression, replaces his sword in its scabbard, on which Christ's hand rests. (`And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear'). As one might expect, there is no light source within the picture for the face of Christ as he receives the kiss of Judas, since is the Light of the World. Both Dreux Budé and his son are lit by Christ's face. Christ occurs twice in the painting, since as an Infant He is seated on the shoulders of Saint Christopher, where he is lit from the central figure group, the right side of His head in shadow. The orb that he holds is similarly lit, but the other side of it is lit in half-tones to emphasize it's shape - a remarkably sophisiticated pictorial device for this early date.
Infra-red imaging conducted by Rachel Billinge in advance of the Chicago exhibition revealed vigorous underdrawing with vigorous hatching very similar to the underdrawing of the central panel in the Getty Museum.10 More recently the infra-red imaging was redone by Art Analysis Research (see detail fig. 4).11 The underdrawing was done in two stages: broad outline done with the point of the brush (the only underdrawing at all in the background), and finer scratchier underdrawing done probably with chalk and mostly in the form of hatching and which is only to be found in the figures, where the artist was apparently intensely interested in the modelling of the drapery. Tree ring analysis conducted by Ian Tyers suggests that the wide and the narrow board that comprise the panel come from different oak trees, not Baltic and probably of French or Netherlandish origin, and the pattern of rings is too erratic to yield data.
1. The central panel, which measures 47.9 by 71.8 cm., includes to the left Christ carrying the Cross and tended by St Irene, and to the right the Harrowing of Hell; Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. 79.PB.177. The wings are of almost identical dimensions. The right wing measures 48.5 by 30.5 cm.; Montpellier, Musée Fabre, inv. 892.4.7.
2. See under Exhibited, and Lorentz, under Literature, 2011.
3. Offered in these Rooms, 4 July 2012, lot 8, withdrawn. Oil on panel, en grisaille, 35 by 28 cm. (but originally probably circa 45 by 28 cm.); see Sterling, 1990, pp. 15, 51–53, 57, 62–63, no. 3, reproduced fig. 58. A complementary exterior left wing en grisaille must have existed, but remains lost.
4. For the Heures d’Étienne Chevalier see F. Avril (ed.), Jean Fouquet. Peintre enlumineur du XVe siècle, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2003, pp. 193–217, no. 24, reproduced copiously. The leaves are widely dispersed. The Melun Diptych is divided between Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, inv. 132 (left wing) and Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie, inv. 1617 (right wing); idem, pp. 121–30, nos. 7 and 8, reproduced.
5. Dreux Budé is belived to have been particularly devoted to Saint Christopher.
6. Archives nationales, Paris, L 651. In the document Dreux Budé and Jeanne Peschard establish a low Mass in their chapel in Saint Gervais.
7. This information has only recently been uncovered, and though initially inconvenient for the reconstruction of the œuvre of André d’Amiens, especially as the author of the Parlement Crucifixion, it prompted a re-examination of the archival records of the Parlement, uncovering the earlier payment; see Lorentz 2002 under Literature, p. 69, n. 13.
8. Rogier’s whereabouts in the 1430s are not known with certainty, and have been the subject of conjecture, often conflicting.
9. There are significantly earlier examples in Italian painting, for example in Taddeo Gaddi’s fresco of the Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Baroncelli chapel, Santa Croce, Florence, which dates from 1328, and by the early 15th century night scenes occur with some frequency in predella panels by Lorenzo Monaco, Gentile da Fabriano and others (see H. Gassner, in C. Vitali (ed.), Die Nacht, exhibition catalogue, Munich 1998, p. 42).
10. See Lorentz under Literature, 2011, detail reproduced fig. 25.
11. Report number AAR0780A. High resolution images are available on request.
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