Despite being by the same artist and from the same manuscript as the preceding lot, this miniature is in many ways entirely different. While the David scene is solidly grounded in the ‘real world’ of 15th-century Flanders, the present scene is set in an ethereal space in which the benches on which the figures sit are implied, not depicted. While David and God make eye-contact across a single diagonal axis, the present scene has a variety of criss-crossing interactions: God looks out at us, the viewer; the Virgin looks at God; some of the seated saints look at God, some at the Virgin, and at least one looks at the figure in the centre, who has his back to us. This raises the central question about the composition: what does it represent?
This unique composition was previously identified as ‘The Vision of St Dominic’, but the central figure of the scene is not dressed as a Dominican, has no other identifying attribute, and is the only figure without a halo. It is most that the present miniature is a standard subject – albeit in a very innovative form – namely The Coronation of the Virgin, which typically appears at the hour of Compline in a Book of Hours, and is typically followed by the Seven Penitential Psalms illustrated by David in Penitence. Scenes of the Coronation of the Virgin surrounded by the Doctors of the Church and other saints are found later in such manuscripts as the Grimani Breviary, and were certainly known earlier in the 15th century in Italy (e.g. Fra Angelico’s altarpieces at the Uffizi and the Louvre), and France (e.g. Enguerrand Quarton’s at Villeneuve-lès-Avignon).
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