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Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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The death of the Roman general Postumius at the hands of the Boii, miniature from a manuscript of the Romuléon (Les Faits des Romains), in French translation, on vellum [eastern France (Langres or Lorraine), c.1480-85]
cutting with a column-wide miniature, 131mm. by 97mm., with Postumius struck from his horse with a lance by an armored knight of the Boii (a Gallic tribe who gave their name to modern Bohemia), before a mounted battle scene and a mountainous landscape (the battle took place in 216 BC. and saw the Boii fight alongside Hannibal of Carthage, macabre reports claiming that the Boii seized Postumius’ body after the battle and turned his skull into a sacrificial bowl), the miniature with a red rubric “Le Xme. Chap[itr]e”, back with 21 lines in brown ink in a rounded gothic bookhand, describing Postumius’ death and how the Boii returned with spoils elated at their victory, trimmed to edges, small tear on left margin, small pigment losses, blue saddle cloth of the horse and cliffs slightly rubbed, else in excellent condition
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Nota del catálogo

This is a miniature from the fragmentary Romuléon manuscript in Niort, Médiathèque, Rés.G2F, olim ms.25, which had all its miniatures removed before it entered the library in 1884 (see McKendrick, in Kunst und Kulturtransfer zur Zeit Karls des Kühnen, 2012, pp.59-84). The volume, measuring an impressive 475mm. by 350mm., is the only known copy of the Romuléon of French origin. The cuttings were evidently initially dispersed in France, and two have been in the Musée Cluny, Paris, since its foundation in 1842, and six others are in the Musée de l’émail, Limoges. Robert Forrer (1866-1947) owned another miniature (Unedierte Federzeichnungen, 1907, no.32). The present cutting was part of 14 miniatures sold at Christie’s, 21 June 1989, lots 6-11 (as lot 7, purchased there by the current owner); some reappearing in Maggs, Bulletin 17, no.10, Les Enluminures, cat. 5, 1996, no.18, and in our rooms, 2 Dec. 1997, lot 74. Two others appeared in Heinlein, Medieval and Renaissance Painting, London 1989, no.6, and Lubin, European Illuminated Manuscripts, New York 1985, no.29 (one re-offered Les Enluminures, cat.3, 1994, no.26).

 The Romuléon is a French translation by Jean Miélot of a Latin text by Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola (d.1390). It was begun in 1460 at the behest of Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and completed in 1462. The original Latin text was drawn from several classical sources and early Christian authors, and tells the story of Rome from the time of Romulus and Remus to Constantine the Great. Only six complete manuscripts of Miélot's translation survive, all of them luxury volumes made in the Southern Netherlands for members of the Burgundian court or their associates. McKendrick has shown that the fragmentary Niort volume was most probably copied from an exemplar with the earliest surviving translation, dated in its colophon to 1464, and with miniatures by the Burgundian court painter Loyset Liedet (now Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana, MS. Med. Pal.156). The Florence manuscript entered the Lorraine ducal library, probably as part of the booty that René II, duke of Lorraine (1451-1508), seized after the defeat and death of Charles the Bold at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Niort copy, modelled after a war trophy, reflects the conscious choice of the owner to appropriate the text to the visual culture of Lorraine.

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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