(b. ca. 1420, Tours, d. ca. 1480, Tours)

Book of Hours of Étienne Chevalier

Manuscript (Ms. nouv. acqu. lat. 1416), 201 x 148 mm
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

This manuscript was created for Étienne Chevalier (c. 1410-1474, secretary and finance minister to King Charles VII of France (reigned 1422-1461). He was one of those bourgeois court officials who because of their great capabilities and loyalty, had risen in rank and influence in Paris and had as a result acquired considerable wealth. The creator of the miniatures in his Book of Hours was Jean Fouquet, with whom French 15th-century painting attained its undisputed zenith.

Originally this Book of Hours was a sumptuous manuscript rivaling the most beautiful manuscripts of the 15th century. Yet, it has suffered a sad fate. In the 18th century it was divided up into sections, with the loss of all the text pages except two. The illuminated pages were scattered in all directions in the 19th century. From the surviving 47 illuminated folios 40 are kept in the Musée Condé, Chantilly, 2 in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1 each in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, British Library, London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Wildentein Foundation, London, and a private collection.

The present picture of a holy group opens the prayer of supplication to Anne. Anne, the mother of the Virgin is accentuated in size with her turban-like yellow headdress. On the left stands Mary with the Christ Child. Joseph can be seen behind her and to her right. Mary Cleophas, Anne's daughter by her second marriage, is depicted on the right, surrounded by her four children, the future apostles: James the Less, Barnabas, Simon the Canaanite and Thaddaeus. Anne's daughter from her first marriage, Maria Salome, whose dress is similar to that worn by the Mother of God, is the mother of John the Evangelist and James the Great.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.