The Adoration of the Three Magi, a large illuminated initial 'E' depicting on a full vellum leaf from a Gradual.Leiden(?), c. 1480-90



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Large historiated initial depicting the Adoration of the Magi, two large calligraphic initials with elegant acanthus decoration, one a woman's head, 11 lines of musical notation in "Hufnagelschrift" with text underneath.

Size of initial: c.50 x 57mm. Size of leaf: 415 x 285mm. Size of frame: 585 x 445mm.

A large concentration of artists was active in the Netherlands in the last two decades of the 15th century. To them belong a heterogeneous group of illuminators known as the Masters of the Suffrages. Their activity is localised to Leiden and it has been assumed that the artists worked in the monastery of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.

They relied heavily on the Master of Hugo van Woerden who worked for the printer Hugo Jans van Woerden as a woodcutter and miniaturist. However, the artist responsible for this leaf knew very well how to render subtlety and soft colouring, basing his technique on fine drawing methods rather than on woodcuts. One can compare his work to the Pentecost Master of a Book of Hours in The Hague, Royal Lib. Ms. 130 E 5 (see Golden Age no. 106 below).

The Adoration initial 'E' opens the antiphon 'Ecce advenit pueri' ('Here is the Child') for the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

This leaf previously appeared in Les Enluminures Catalogue 3 (1995), item no. 33.

Cf. H. Defoer, A.S. Korteweg, W.C. Wüstefeld, Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, 1999, p. 288 and no. 106, pl. 106.


Stock Code: 221106

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