Important Medieval Manuscripts From the Collection of the Late Ernst Boehlen

Important Medieval Manuscripts From the Collection of the Late Ernst Boehlen

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 44. THE VISION OF KING ASTYAGES, illuminated by The Master of the Geneva Boccaccio, cut from a copy of Vincent of Beauvais (d. 1264), Speculum historiale, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum. [France (Loire Valley, Nantes or Angers), 15th century (c. 1460s)].

THE VISION OF KING ASTYAGES, illuminated by The Master of the Geneva Boccaccio, cut from a copy of Vincent of Beauvais (d. 1264), Speculum historiale, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum. [France (Loire Valley, Nantes or Angers), 15th century (c. 1460s)]

Estimate

4,000 - 5,000 GBP

Lot Details

Description

THE VISION OF KING ASTYAGES, illuminated by The Master of the Geneva Boccaccio, cut from a copy of Vincent of Beauvais (d. 1264), Speculum historiale, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[France (Loire Valley, Nantes or Angers), 15th century (c. 1460s)]


a cutting, c. 120 × 100 mm, including the gently arched top, the back with part of the table of chapters for Book IV, in a good bâtarde script, small illuminated initials and line-fillers; some minor pigment losses, especially in the sky, cropped to the edges of the decoration; in a giltwood frame.


PROVENANCE

  1. ? KING RENÉ OF ANJOU (1409–1480), Duke of Anjou, King of Naples, Jerusalem, etc.: the artist worked mainly for René, and the king’s his inventory includes five copies of the text and a Repertorium, whose description in an inventory probably corresponds to the five volumes of the text, plus the Tabula of the text, all illuminated in France but now now in the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon (MSS il. 125–130), from one of which (MS. il. 126) the present miniature was cut.
  2. PETER BIRMANN (1758–1844), landscape painter and art dealer, and former owner of ‘Les Quarante Fouquet’ (the forty sublime miniatures from the Hours of Etienne Chevalier, now at Chantilly); stuck to fol. 31 of the album of 475 cuttings and leaves which he sold to:
  3. DANIEL BURCKHARDT-WILDT (1752–1819), connoisseur and painter, of Basel: sold by his heirs in our rooms, 25 April 1983, lot 129 (six miniatures), bought by:
  4. Mark Lansburgh (1925–2013) (on whom see Dutschke, 2024): placed on temporary deposit at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1986 (the reverse of the frame with a CMA deposit label); one of the six was acquired by the Museum in 1987 (Klein, 2007); sold, probably in October 1990, to:
  5. The Boehlen Collection, Bern, MS 1409.


PARENT VOLUME AND ILLUMINATION

The Vincent of Beauvais manuscript in Lisbon lacks its first quire and nine other leaves, of which three are now kept separately with their miniatures excised. Only four miniatures survive in the volume, and at least a dozen more are missing from it, including the present lot. The manuscript and its four surviving illuminations ‘de très grand qualité’ were studied in detail by Claude Schaefer in 1974. He attributed the illumination to the Master of Jouvenel des Ursins, one of the painters of King René of Anjou, to whom more than ten works can be attributed, dating from c. 1460 to c. 1475, and suggested that he could be the artist Coppin Delf, who is documented working for King René. One of the manuscripts listed by Schaefer is Geneva, Bibliothèque de Genève (formerly the Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire), MS fr. 191 (on which see Gagnebin, 1976). Eberhard Konig distinguished at least three artists among those grouped together by Schaefer, and gave the painter responsible for the Lisbon and Geneva manuscripts a new name: the Master of the Geneva Boccaccio. Compared to the Master of Jouvenel des Ursins, the Master of the Geneva Boccaccio has a more nervous, less static style, with a less bright palette. The issues of separating the remarkable group of illuminations and illuminators which had long been associated with the early career of Jean Fouquet, including some in books made for members of the Jouvenel des Ursins family, is summarised and reconsidered by François Avril (Avril & Reynaud, 1993, pp. 109–10 and nos. 54–61).


Despite some damage, the quality of the painting in this miniature is high. It illustrates the beginning of Book IV, with The Vision of King Astyages: in the foreground his only daughter, asleep in bed, with a vine growing out of her; two armies in the background, one led by a king, and four men lying dead on the ground.


REFERENCES

C. Schaefer, ‘Le Maître de Jouvenel des Ursins (Coppin Delf?), illustrateur du “Speculum historiale” de Vincent de Beauvais (Ms. 126 de la Biblioteca Nacional à Lisbonne)’, Arquivos do Centro Cultural Português, 8 (1974), pp. 81–114, col. pls. I–IV, pls. 1–41.


Bulletin de la Société française de la reproductions de manuscrits a peintures, 14 (1932), pls. XIlIb and XIV (‘d’une grande finesse de dessin et coloris … profond et riche’).


Bernard Gagnebin, L’Enluminure de Charlemagne à François Ier: Les manuscrits à peintures de la Bibliothèque publique et universitaire de Genève (Geneva, 1976), no. 41.


E. König, Französische Buchmalerei um 1450: der Jouvenal-Maler, der Maler des Genfer Boccaccio, und die Anfänge Jean Fouquets (Berlin, 1982), pp. 15, 38, 116, 167, 169, 253 


F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440–1520 (Paris, 1993).


Inventário dos códices iluminados até 1500, 1: Distrito de Lisboa, ed. by I. Vilares Cepeda and T.A.S. Duarte Ferreira (Lisbon, 1994), no. 428 at p. 167 (col. ill.).


H.A. Klein, ed., Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, 2007), no. 81; also at www.clevelandart.org/art/1987.4


Consuelo Dutschke, ‘Mark Lansburgh: Collector and Seller of Medieval Manuscripts’, in Medieval Manuscripts and Their Provenance: Essays in Honour of Barbara A. Shailor, ed. by A.S.G. Edwards (Woodbridge, 2024), pp. 116–31.