Lot 7
  • 7

The Dormition of the Virgin, border miniature probably from a large Choirbook [Italy (Verona), c.1490-1500]

7,000 - 9,000 GBP
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  • ink and pigment on vellum
cutting, c.85–100x390mm, vellum, large page-wide illumination probably cut from the lower margin of a Choirbook illuminated by FRANCESCO or GIROLAMO DAI LIBRI, reverse apparently blank, laid down on modern vellum, c.10–15mm strip at top and slim frame around four sides added later, slightly rubbed

Catalogue Note

Archival sources refer to Francesco dai Libri between 1473 and 1503, while his son Girolamo dai Libri (c.1475–1555) was paid separately for work as an illuminator in 1485. Both worked as a team in the 1490s and it is often difficult to distinguish their work. Most recently, Gino Castiglioni attributed an Antiphonary for SS Nazarius and Celsus that is dated 1492 to both (in Per Girolamo dai Libri, 2008, pp.33, 125; London, V&A, MSL/1866/4929, see R. Watson, Western Illuminated Manuscripts, II, 2011, no.120). The present cutting is unpublished.

Typical for Francesco's work is the archaeological precision of the classical world of Andrea Mantegna while Girolamo developed his own style characterised by his softer manner. The miniature shows the Virgin's body on a bier, surrounded by eleven apostles. The wide landscape allows the painter to depict the figures in varying positions, providing a still narrative of deep, heartfelt pain. The classical world of Mantegna has been translated into an atmospheric setting with robustly drawn and brilliantly coloured figures that is characteristic for both painters in the 1490s.