Leaf Excised from a Book of Hours: The Nativity

Leaf Excised from a Book of Hours: The Nativity

c. 1480

Ink, tempera and liquid gold on vellum

Leaf: 10.8 x 8.2 cm (4 1/4 x 3 1/4 in.)

The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection 2011.64

Description

The Ghent-Bruges school of illumination represents the culmination of Flemish book painting. Its main features were the use of rich colors, decorative and illusionistic effects, a love of landscape, and a strong sense of visual narrative. Its most distinctive innovation was the development of a new style of border decoration featuring realistic motifs which cast shadows onto colored grounds to create a trompe l’oeil effect. These motifs included a rich assortment of flowers, butterflies, insects, birds, and sprays of acanthus foliage. Foremost among the exponents of this style was the illuminator Alexander Bening. He is known to have entered the painter’s guild in Ghent in 1469. Little else is known about Alexander’s career. It must be assumed, however, that he worked in close association with other miniaturists and panel painters such as Roger van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, and Gerard David, whose compositions are often adapted or replicated in Alexander’s miniatures

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