Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017

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Lot no.


St. Genèvieve before Attila the Hun and his armies

Sold for £2400

Est: £2000–3000

St. Genèvieve before Attila the Hun and his armies, and Bathsheba bathing with King David looking on , miniature on a bifolium from an illuminated Book of Hours, on parchment [northern France (Paris), c. 1520]

Bifolium, one leaf with a full-page miniature, showing in the upper and larger compartment (i) St. Genèvieve in sumptuous gold embroidered robes kneeling in prayer in the middle of a stony road before the mounted armies of Attila the Hun (here as a French Renaissance nobleman in gilded armour and on a splendid white steed with blue and gold livery; details such as these and the foliage in the scene behind suggesting the influence of the sought-after Parisian artist, Jean Pichore, fl. c. 1490-1521), the saint standing before the women of Paris, and all set within a richly painted natural scene; in the lower compartment (ii) Bathsheba, naked and standing in her bath as King David and attendants look on from a nearby castle, all before a wide landscape of rolling hills; both scenes set within realistic carved wooden frame with human figures and architectural features picked out in gold on the upright columns, the two scenes separated by a realistic banderole containing 3 lines of text in an excellent late gothic bookhand, one 2-line initial ‘D’ in white acanthus scrolls on dull gold grounds, and a line filler, reverse with one-line initials in liquid gold blue or burgundy grounds with line fillers in same, capitals touched in yellow, 23 lines of text (written space: 120 by 75mm.), second leaf with same and two 2-line illuminated initials enclosing a spray of realistic foliage, stitch-holes at top of first leaf from a cloth curtain having once been stitched there to protect the miniature, tiny scratches to paint of rider’s face and slight discolouration to edges, else in outstanding condition, 204 by 145mm.

The main miniature here is a rare one in medieval art. It depicts St. Genèvieve in the action of leaving the terrified inhabitants (predominantly men) of Paris, to lead the women of the city out to meet the invading armies of the Huns face to face. This act is meant to have happened in 451, and Attila and his followers were reportedly so startled by the act that they diverted their course around Paris and went on to raze Orleans instead, securing St. Genèvieve’s status as protectress and patron of the city.

Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures

Wednesday 06 December 2017, 2.00pm

Bloomsbury London
Bloomsbury House
24 Maddox Street


Saturday 2 December
11am - 4pm
Sunday 3 December
11am - 4pm
Monday 4 December
9.30am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 5 December
9.30am - 5.30pm
Day of Sale from 9.30am

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