Maître François (François Le Barbier ?)
Tempera, gold leaf and ink on vellum
17.3 x 13.3 x 4 cm
Mrs. George D. Pratt Bequest, inv. 1943.1372
In many Books of Hours, the artists added the Virgin to the scene of Pentecost, although she is not mentioned in the Biblical accounts. The feast of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The former appears in the form of a dove in flames, which symbolizes the gift of tongues, conferred on Christ’s disciples to enable them to evangelize various peoples.
The style of this painting is notable for the delicate rose pink of the Virgin’s robe, the grey waving beards of the old men, so full that they are tied up, and the slightly elongated silhouettes of the figures. This interior scene is surmounted by a trefoil arch flanked by green columns terminating in gilded bases and capitals. The illumination also features a constant interplay between a palette of very bright colours, including an intense azure blue and orange, and softer hues such as old rose and mauve grey, all liberally sprinkled with gold highlights. All these characteristics are imitated from the style of Maître François, one of a trio of artists who dominated the Paris market from 1440 to 1500.
An elegant binding of brown Moroccan leather on cardboard has replaced the original binding. This 16th-century cover, in the so-called fanfare style, is decorated with gilt lines and small tags made up of geometric compartments, branches and scrolls.