This work is now sold.
This is a very early and moreover complete and rich example from the oeuvre of the Mazarine Master, who created some of the most fascinating and elaborate Parisian illuminated Books of Hours in the first decades of the 15th century. The manuscript at hand combines the refined style of the Mazarine Master with archaic wine leaf borders that support an early dating. The Master's work shows a distinctive palette, which is determined by a rare lime-green that he used progressively more often in his later works. He likes to combine complementary colours, frequently using radiant orange contrasted with vivid green or accompanied by pale rose. See, for instance, the miniature of St. John dressed in a bright orange cloak lined in contrasting blue, Or, in the Annunciation where the Virgin kneels on an orange cushion. The artist's miniatures show a special interest in painting fine drapery, the folds of which are moulded delicately with different shades of the same tone. His faces are minutely defined by brush strokes on a greenish foundation.
Judging from the archaic wine leaf tendrils, we may assume that this book is among his earliest works, dated around 1405. The master's awareness of hierarchy in the secondary decoration is already perceptible. He surrounds the two most important miniatures, the Annunciation and God in Majesty, with three-sided solid gold bars while the other miniatures are less elaborately framed.
Of this lavish series of 30 large miniatures, 15 are devoted to single saints. The calendar with several feastdays written in gold, suggests that this book was made for a patron either in or from the area to the north-east of Soissons or Laon. St. Quentin, for instance, also occurs in the suffrages and litany. Some Franciscan elements may refer to a special interest in this order's spirituality. This is a most refined Book of Hours, preserved in a 15th century binding with wide and clean margins.
Read more about this manuscript in our Spotlight on Paris, and in our Spotlight on Three Beauties.
See also this miniature of St. Peter by the Mazarine Master.