Lot 91
  • 91

Two unusual miniatures [France (Paris), late 19th or early 20th century]

2,000 - 3,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • illuminated manuscript on vellum
two miniatures, vellum, each 150x115mm, by the Spanish Forger, on cuttings from a medieval manuscript Choirbook, in Latin, with text and music in square notation on five-line red staves, some wear to the gold backgrounds, and some minor pigment losses, but generally in good condition, framed and glazed

Catalogue Note

The matching dimensions, framing devices, and architectural features suggest that these miniatures were always intended to form a pair, but the subjects have never been confidently identified. The scroll previously read as “epistola sharsen” should perhaps be read instead as “epistola s(anc)ti Arseni[i]”: St Arsenius the Great was chosen by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I the Great to be the tutor to his son Arcadius: the image would thus show the emperor’s wife (wearing a coronet) handing her son into St Arsenius’s tutelage. The second image remains unidentified, but perhaps shares the theme of scholarship: the haloed woman is perhaps a muse appearing to an author.

The so-called Spanish Forger (on whom see Voelkle, Spanish Forger, 1978, and Hindman, Manuscript Illumination in the Modern Age, 2001, esp.pp.156-62), usually painted scenes that are either overly religious/biblical, or show scenes of courtliness and chivalry; whatever their precise subjects, the present images are therefore exceptional within the oeuvre of “this now eminently collectible artist” (Hindman, p.162).  Voelkle has assigned the reference numbers SL 115 and SL 116 to the present miniatures.