Three Leaves from a Book of Hours,
Adoration of the Magi (Office of the Virgin, Sext)
[Cat. no. 64], about 1510
Ink, tempera, and liquid gold on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection [Cat nos. 62-64]
Characteristic of this artist's hand is the use of bright orange-reds combined with deep blues, greens, and an abundance of gold wash. He used fine parallel lines, or hatching, in gold to indicate the shading, highlights, and texture of draperies. This suggests he may have been familiar with the printmaker's art, for which Rouen was also an important center. His figures have large oval faces outlined in thick line. An additional hallmark of these miniatures is the emerging fashion in both Rouen and Paris for intricate architectural frames comprising a profusion of winged putti, swags, urns, garlands, scallop shells, pilasters, masks, and so forth. These elements could be assembled in different ways so that no two frames were identical.
In the late 1400s and early 1500s Rouen was an established and important center of book production. The city's cathedral had a wealthy chapter that spent large sums of money to commission books and maintain its extensive library. Similarly, Rouen's geographic position at the mouth of the Seine helped enhance the fortunes of the city's merchants and bourgeois families. The result must have been a healthy market for books.