Lot 8
  • 8

St John the Evangelist blessing the poisoned Chalice, miniature on a leaf probably from a Book of Hours [Spain (Valencia or Toledo), c.1475]

5,000 - 7,000 GBP
bidding is closed


single leaf, 135x89mm, vellum, with a miniature perhaps for the Gospel extract or a suffrage to St John the Evangelist, reverse blank, border cut to the outer edge of the inner three-sided frame, the lower frame affected by water damage, some pigment losses, the figure of St John mostly not affected and in fine condition

Catalogue Note

This miniature is a hitherto unpublished work by the Valencian painter PEDRO JUAN BALLESTER. He illuminated a Missal in Valencia (Cathedral Archive, Cod. 97) dated 1479, and he contributed the only full-page miniature to a Missal in Toledo (Cathedral Archive, Res.1) made for Alfonso Carrillo, Archbishop of Toledo from 1446 to 1482 (for both manuscripts, see L. Bosch, Art, Liturgy, and Legend in Renaissance Toledo, 2000, pp.130-34). The present miniature is especially close to Ballester's Crucifixion in the Toledo Missal. His Valencian career is well documented, but a gap between the years 1474 and 1479 indicates that Ballester was working elsewhere during this period. The Carrillo Missal was presumably illuminated in Toledo, this doubtless explains where Ballester went during his absence from Valencia.

The miniature is very delicately painted and the artist was intimately familiar with the work of the Van Eyck brothers. Particularly Eyckian is the facial type, the handling of the hair and the conception of the drapery folds. Close parallels can be found among the singing angels in the Ghent altarpiece; St John's raised hand with the crossed index and middle fingers corresponds exactly to the same saint's gesture as shown on the reverse of one of the wings painted in grisaille.