View full screen - View 1 of Lot 28. French, Limoges, circa 1500 | Plaque with the Annunciation.

French, Limoges, circa 1500 | Plaque with the Annunciation

French, Limoges, circa 1500 | Plaque with the Annunciation

French, Limoges, circa 1500 | Plaque with the Annunciation

French, Limoges, circa 1500

Plaque with the Annunciation

partially gilt painted enamel on copper, in a modern metal mount

the angel's banderole inscribed: AVE GRACIA PLENA in brown-red enamel and the canopy above the Virgin: MARIA MATER GRACIEMA in gilding

plaque: 21.3 by 18.3cm., 8 3/8 by 7¼in.

overall: 24cm., 9½in. high

The purple enamel is chemically unstable as is often the case with early enamels. This has led to the crizzling of this colour throughout. Salts have formed on the two streaks of lighter purple on the angel's wings. All four corners and an area in the centre of the lower edge have been restored. A chip was restored or reattached in the blue area of the throne near the Virgin's right shoulder. There is some minor pitting in the lower left corner and some craquelure to the blue at the Virgin's waist and the capital of the central column. The gilding is worn but the decorative patterns are still clearly ghosted. There is a pin hole just under the dove. There are some scratches fired into the enamel around the lily. There is a thin layer of deteriorated material which may have functioned as the counter enamel to the reverse. There are a few specks of paint and remnants of an old paper cover on the reverse of the plaque. Otherwise the condition of the enamel is stable with some wear and dirt to the surface consistent with age. The colours and overall drawing of the piece are well preserved.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Private collection, Europe;

Sotheby's London, 9 July 2015, lot 80, where acquired by the present owner

The composition derives from Israhel van Meckenem's engraving of the Annunciation which, in turn, is a reversed version of a print by Martin Schongauer. Another early enameller, The Master of the Louis XII triptych, also referred to Van Meckenem's Annunciation (see Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 552-1877).

Stylistically the present plaque is a beautiful example from the early period of painted enamel production in Limoges. It relates to works by the artist known as Pseudo-Monvaerni, whose name derives from the inscription MONVAERNI on a triptych now in the Taft Museum in Cincinnati (inv. no. 1931-268). Pseudo-Monvaerni is recognised as one of the first of the artists working with painted enamel in Limoges, having arrived in the city sometime around 1460-1480. Art historians have attributed an extraordinary number of enamels to the master since he was first named on the basis of the Taft triptych in the 1840s, leaving a rather incoherent body of work. Here the florid patterning of the background and gilding on the drapery, the linear rendering of the faces, hands and the drapery on an opaque white ground, and the distinctly Gothic composition are reminiscent of such plaques as the Flagellation in the Louvre (inv. no. OA6309E) or The Nativity from Cracow illustrated by Marquet de Vasselot (op.cit., pl. XIV). However, the present lot does not possess the yellows and greys, paillons, and slightly grotesque facial features that seem to characterise the more securely attributed plaques. Perhaps most closely related to our Annunciation is a plaque with Saint Martin and the Beggar in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 41.100.212), which incorporates a markedly similar approach to facial features, and the array and use of gilded decoration.

J. J. Marquet de Vasselot, Les émaux limousins de la fin du XVe siècle et de la première partie du XVIe, Paris, 1921, pp. 236-237, no. 43, pl. XIV; S. Baratte, Les émaux peints de Limoges, cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2000, pp. 30 and 33