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Illuminated Manuscript Painting
Illuminated Manuscript Painting
Illuminated Manuscript Painting
Illuminated Manuscript Painting
Illuminated Manuscript Painting
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Illuminated Manuscript Painting

  • This 16th-century painting of an illuminated manuscript creates a remarkable troupe l'oeil effect
  • Placed on a deep black background, the manuscript's pages appear to leap from the panel
  • Created by a Northern Renaissance artist, the painting is one of only 17 known artworks of its kind
  • Other examples of the rare subject reside in Eltz Castle and Ambras Castle in Germany
  • Get complete item description here
$648,500
Item No. 31-6844

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Description
Extraordinary in its beauty and rarity, this early 16th-century painting of an illuminated manuscript showcases a masterful trompe l’oeil effect. Among the finest of only 17 known works of its kind, the oil on panel is both rare and captivating. With illusory pages that appear to leap from the panel, this virtuosic painting of a hand-colored book suspended into space is exceptional.

Created more than four centuries ago, the composition evokes a strong sense. . .
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Extraordinary in its beauty and rarity, this early 16th-century painting of an illuminated manuscript showcases a masterful trompe l’oeil effect. Among the finest of only 17 known works of its kind, the oil on panel is both rare and captivating. With illusory pages that appear to leap from the panel, this virtuosic painting of a hand-colored book suspended into space is exceptional.

Created more than four centuries ago, the composition evokes a strong sense of realism. Executed by a masterful Northern Renaissance artist perhaps of the German school, the illuminated manuscript pictured shows the astonishing splendor of the historical books of the period. Sumptuously decorated with scrolling floral motifs in the margins, the manuscript appears before a deep black background, heightening the trompe l’oeil illusion of depth through its strong contrast and the naturalistic shadows falling across the fluttering pages. It has been said that of the 17 known versions of this composition, ours stands alone in its precision in both perspective and the play of light and shadow.

The visible folios feature choral arrangements and other texts, indicating the pictured manuscript likely served a role in the celebration of church services. In fact, other examples of manuscript paintings from the period were used to serve as placeholders for the missals, lectionaries and breviaries when they were stored away following worship. The famed choral lectern from the Olivetan monastery of Santa Maria in Organo, Verona offers an example of how such paintings were displayed in churches. 

While there is no doubt some of these extraordinary works of art were intended for use in churches, scholars believe that oil paintings of illuminated manuscripts were also commissioned by elite and scholarly 16th-century collectors. The advent and widespread use of the printing press transformed the social fabric of Europe at the turn of the 16th century, and the production of printed books was far less laborious and time-consuming than painstakingly hand-painting and illuminating manuscripts. By the time this panel was painted in the first half of the 16th century, illuminated manuscripts — already highly valuable and exclusive for the elite — were becoming obsolete. The wealthy patron of these paintings was almost certainly someone who valued knowledge and sought to preserve the hand-wrought artistry of those captivating early manuscripts.

The other few German school manuscript paintings reside in private and public collections around the globe, including the impressive collections of Eltz Castle in Germany and Ambras Castle in Austria. 

Painted in the early 16th century

Panel: 18" high x 20 1/4" wide
Frame: 25" high x 27 5/8" wide x 2 1/4" deep

Exhibitions:
Flassans-sur-Issole, France, Exposition Peyrassol, April 1-November 1, 2022

Provenance:
Private collection, Germany
Private collection, Geneva
M.S. Rau, New Orleans
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Illuminated Manuscript Painting
Period: Pre-18th Century
Origin: Germany
Type: Paintings
Style: Old Masters
Depth: 2.25 in. (5.72 cm)
Width: 27.63 in. (70.17 cm)
Height: 25.0 in. (63.5 cm)
Canvas Width: 20.250 in. (51.44 cm)
Canvas Height: 18.000 in. (45.72 cm)
Illuminated Manuscript Painting
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Buy with Confidence

At M.S. Rau, we are committed to building a long-term, rewarding relationship with each and every client. That’s why your purchase is backed by our 125% guarantee.

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