From the collection of Robert Lehman (1891-1969; published by Palladino, Treasures of a Lost Art, 2003, no.39), a member of the Lehman banking dynasty.
Cristoforo Cortese (fl.1399-1445) held a paramount position in the bookarts of fifteenth-century Venice. He is first mentioned as ‘miniator’ in the rule book of the Scuola di S Caterina dei Sacchi, Venice (Museo Correr, MS. IV, 118), written c.1400, and is probably the ‘Christophorus de Cortisiis pictor’ responsible for the polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Four Saints in the church of Altidona, Ascoli Piceno.
The quality of the border decoration here and the deep expression of the facial features sets this leaf among Cristoforo Cortese’s mature and bolder oeuvre, with a brighter palette and broader brushstrokes commonly used to depict half-length portraits. Other examples can be found in an initial once in the Breslauer collection: The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection, 1992, no.76; a leaf with a portrait of a man from a compendium of moralised works, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum: Italian Illuminated MSS. in the Getty Museum, 2005, p.32; and a series of fragments in the Bodleian (MS. Douce a.1).
Other similar miniatures by Cortese on cuttings from a gradual appeared in our rooms on 22 June 2004, lot 23, and 5 December 2006, lots 68-69 (the first showing an apostle holding an identical blank banderole), and all these may be from a single dispersed set of choirbooks.
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