Details & Cataloguing

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts


Gawain and his nine companions on their search for Lancelot, miniature from a Livre du Lancelot del Lac, in French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [northern France (Paris), c.1440-50]
a cutting, 100mm. by 98mm., column-wide miniature by the Dunois Master, showing Gawain and his nine companions on their search for Lancelot, led by a damsel to where a knight is being attacked by ten others, reverse with 15 lines of text, written in a gothic hand, miniature with small areas of pigment losses, faint scratch in the lower corner, trimmed to the edges, in good condition, framed
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


(1) Joachim Napoléon, Prince Murat (1856-1932), a member of the Bonaparte-Murat family. This cutting was part of a series of 34 miniatures from the same parent manuscript, which were mounted in a red morocco volume with his bookplate.

(2) The album was acquired in 1960, after the prince’s death, by the London dealer, W.R. Jeudwine, and the individual miniatures were exhibited in The Alpine Club Gallery and offered for sale in 1962 (the present miniature as no.21). The residue of 14 miniatures then appeared together in our rooms, 13 December 1965, as lot 171 (the present miniature as no.2), and were bought by Maggs for £2400.

(3) Again in our rooms, 8 July 1970, lot 22 (a cutting of this sale catalogue pasted to back of present frame).

(4) Christie’s, 21 June 1978, lot 260; and acquired from there by the present owner.

Catalogue Note


This miniature comes from a gloriously illuminated manuscript of the Livre du Lancelot del Lac which had been stripped of its miniatures probably as early as the sixteenth century (several of the miniatures are reported to have numbers of that date written on their reverses). It is likely that the parent manuscript once formed a pair with the two-volume Roman de Guiron le Courtois (now Paris, BnF., fr.356-7; see Avril and Reynaud, Manuscrits à Peintures, 1993, p.37); and both share the same scribes and illuminators. The miniatures have been attributed to the Dunois Master who was named after a Book of Hours made for Jean de Dunois (London, British Library, Yates Thompson MS.3). He took over the leading role in the workshop of the Bedford Master around 1435/40 and continued to work in a similar style for about three decades, distinguishing his own work with his light palette and the soft modelling. It is possible that the Bedford Master was the Alsatian artist Haincelin of Hagenau, recorded in Paris from 1403 to 1424, while the Dunois Master might have been his son Jean Haincelin who is mentioned between 1438 and 1449. Avril and Reynaud have noted that Prigent de Coëtivy, admiral of France and  Dunois’ comrade in arms, paid Haincelin in 1444 for a copy of Tristan, Lancelot and Guiron le Courtois. The parent manuscript of the present miniature may well have been part of  this commission here (Manuscrits à Peintures, 1993, p.38; for the payment instruction see L. Delisle, in Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes, 61, 1900, p.192).

The scene here illustrates the part of the text which corresponds to H.O. Sommer, The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances, 1911, IV, p.323, lines 18-19. Other leaves have most recently been sold at Christie’s, 4 June 2008, lots 26-8, and 12 June 2013, lot 12.

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts