Leaf from a Book of Hours:
The Raising of the Cross (Hours of the Passion, Sext[?]), about 1510-20
Tempera and liquid gold on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection [Cat. no. 68]
This finely painted miniature is the work of an artist largely familiar with the designs of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Though not deriving from a known engraving or drawing, the style, composition, and especially the modeling of the figure of Christ refer to the draftsmanship and tonalities found in Dürer's works. This miniature depicts the moment the cross is raised. In the foreground, thuggish brutes struggle to bring it upright. The skull of Adam at the foot of the cross signifies that Golgotha was Adam's burial place. In the background, a vivid blue sky recedes into pink as it meets the horizon and a distant townscape. The inclusion of an illusionistic, trompe l'oeil border, strewn with flowers and butterflies on a gold ground, follows the tradition of Ghent and Bruges, where such borders were first developed during the 1470s and 1480s (see no. 57).