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Details & Cataloguing

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The Annunciation with monks, nuns, and saints
FULL-PAGE MINIATURE, PROBABLY FROM A PRAYERBOOK [FRANCE (PARIS), 16TH CENTURY (C.1510?)]
c.140x93mm, single vellum leaf with full-page miniature depicting kneeling monks with St Stephen, and kneeling nuns with St Francis, the arms (argent, a chevron azure, with three molettes gules, behind which is a crozier), crozier, and perhaps the smaller nun apparently added c.1522(?), the reverse blank except for a partially obscured 18th-century inscription, ‘[Cette] image a 230 [ans d’anti]quite et est du tems de m(adam)e Francoise le jaune a[bbesse] de Soissons’; trimmed to the edges of the painted frame, some flaking of pigments, especially the face of the smaller nun, gentle cockling, but overall in very good condition; framed and glazed
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Catalogue Note

Provenance
Françoise Lejeune de Manteaux, Abbess of Soissons: depicted with St Francis (her name-saint), a crozier, and arms.

Françoise was transferred to Soissons from the royal double monastery (of monks and nuns) of Fontevraud; this probably explains the emphasis given to the monks, the foremost of whom was presumably named Etienne. The miniature was probably painted for Françoise when she was at Fontevraud, and the arms and crosier were added in 1522, when she became abbess of Soissons. (The monk's arms, which were on his prie-dieu, were doubtless overpainted at the same time). She resigned in 1539 and died in 1560 (see Histoire de l’abbaye royale de Notre-Dame de Soissons, Paris, 1675, pp.255–61).

This is both a very unusual composition, and an intersting example of a miniature being adapted in response to the changing status of its patron.

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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London