Events | November 10, 2011

Les Enluminures at the Winter Antiques Show

PARIS Nov 8 - At the end of the thirteenth century, Bologna was the largest city in Italy and the fifth largest city in Europe, outranking Paris.  The oldest university in Europe was located there, and for the next two centuries Bologna enjoyed a period of great prosperity - in culture and the arts, in its religious foundations, and in commerce and civic activities.

At The Winter Antiques Show in New York January 20 - 29 Les Enluminures  ( gallery of Paris and Chicago (Stand #6) will host a special exhibition of about a dozen illuminated manuscripts, miniatures, and text manuscripts that brings together a group of works that gallery owner Sandra Hindman says, “Animate Bolognese culture and life in the late medieval era.”

According to Hindman, a specialist in Medieval and Renaissance Art, “Although the Black Death wiped out as many as 30,000 people in 1348, and Bologna suffered from considerable political turmoil in the last half of the fourteenth century, the city flourished again under the enlightened rule of the prominent Bentivoglio family who took over in 1401 and governed throughout the fifteenth century.”

“Founded on an art that was profoundly influenced by Byzantium, Bolognese painting in the early thirteenth century increasingly demonstrated the impact of the great Giotto (c. 1267-1337), who spent some years in Bologna in the early 1330s. The illuminator Nerio, who signed his name in a manuscript in Paris, was responsible for an unusually large miniature that illustrates the opening of Psalm 25 with two kneeling figures looking up toward Christ (fig.1).

Nerio clearly makes reference to Giotto, who appears to have been a significant influence on his work.  Following Nerio, one of the major Bolognese illuminators at mid-century, the Master of 1346, takes his name from his illuminations in the Bolognese Draper’s Guild of 1346.  We have the only surviving witness from the lost manuscript, where the head of the Guild poses at the opening of the text, revealing the expressive three-dimensionality of Giotto’s style; the guild’s symbol, a pair of scissors, appears in the margin.

“What’s more, Bologna’s active craft and merchant guilds protected the rights of workers, such as the Guild of the Tailors and the Guild of the Wine Merchants, the statutes of which are included here written in a lively Bolognese dialect (fig. 5).  Did you know that, then as now, it was illegal to sell wine that had been diluted with water? And that, whereas only those over 14-years-old were entitled to drink wine, records fix consumption at an average of five liters daily!”

Hindman adds that “Other works protected the rights of the numerous students, who gathered in Bologna from all over Europe to attend its famous law school.  Dedicated in 1492 to Giovanni II Bentivoglio and still preserved in its original binding, we have a legal commentary that harks back to a famous charter composed for the university in the twelfth century under Frederick I Barbarossa that ensured juridical privileges of both students and teachers of Bologna (figs. 6).

 “Another especially noteworthy artist is the Master of 1446, named after a 1446 book of statutes and representative of a late Gothic tendency in Bolognese manuscript illumination.  His work was still rooted in the vocabulary of Niccolò but he was receptive to the examples of contemporary painters.”

At Les Enluminures stand at The Winter Antiques Show is a stunning Dominican Hymnal, formerly in the Robert Lehman Collection in New York, that Hindman says “Is a fine example of this painter’s art (fig. 4).  With its seventeen illuminations, this Choir Book is a rare survivor of an intact Italian music manuscript commissioned by an important (still-unidentified) individual. (fig. 2).”

“The Master of 1346 may have been the teacher of Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna (active 1349-1403), whose expressive style characterized by action-packed narratives dominated Bolognese painting until the end of the century.  The delightful initial of Monks Singing is by Niccolò (fig. 3).  Eight music-making monks dressed in Olivetan robes play musical instruments - a psaltery, a viola, bells, and an organ - while others listen to the sounds, heads tilted, mouths partly open.  Niccolò was appointed illuminator to the city of Bologna in the 1380s, and he was an active participant in city government.”

Now beginning its third decade in business, LES ENLUMINURES, with a gallery in Paris opposite the Louvre and offices in Chicago, is well known to collectors, curators and librarians from its participation in the most important international art fairs.  The year begins in January at New York’s Winter Antiques Show, then in March to the Netherlands for TEFAF in Maastricht, in June to Great Britain for Masterpiece London, in October to the Firenze Biennale as well as several other fairs including the Salon du Dessin and New York’s Antiquarian Book Fair.

Les Enluminures maintains an extremely active year round schedule of publishing comprehensive catalogues and staging special exhibitions at its own galleries and others in cities where it chooses to exhibit.  Its web site is a portal to four separate subject areas focusing on the artworks it sells with innovative ‘turn the page’ and video techniques employed to make it as easy as possible for visitors to learn about the subjects featured.  Dr. Hindman and her academically-grounded colleagues as well as guest scholars provide significant background knowledge on each subject contributing what she says “Is important additional information to the understanding of each work of art and subject in which we specialize.”

Dr. Sandra Hindman is Professor Emerita at Northwestern University, where she twice headed the Art History Department.  A specialist in Gothic and Northern Renaissance Art, it was her years spent studying Medieval manuscripts that sparked her interest in acquiring key pieces, which led to her opening her Paris gallery.  In the early years she maintained her academic career, shuttling back and forth between Paris and Chicago.

Within Europe the Musée du Louvre, the Musée Nationale du Moyen Age, the British Library, the Bibliothèques municipales at Metz and Rennes, among others, are all clients.
“The Winter Antiques Show in New York always presents a unique opportunity to show newly acquired examples of important and rare medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, miniatures, works of art, and rings to museums, library officials and private clients who attend this esteemed exhibition.”

Nerio (Bologna, active first quarter of the 14th century)
David Offering his Soul to God in an Initial “A”??tempera and gold leaf on parchment, cut to shape (275 x 185 mm.)??Bologna, c. 1310-1315
Maestro del 1346 (Bologna, active c. 1330-1348)??Leaf from the “Statuto della Società dei Sarti” (Tailors’ Guild) illustrated with the Captain of the Guild, the symbols of the Guild, and the arms of the Angevin king and the city of Bologna
tempera and goldleaf on parchment (297 x 217 mm.)??Italy, Bologna, c. 1340 (after 1334)
Nicolò di Giacomo (Bologna, active 1349- c .1403)
Monks Singing in an initial “E”
Tempera and goldleaf, cut to shape (124 x 111 mm.)
Italy, Bologna, c. 1365-1380
Maestro del 1446 (Bologna, active second quarter of the 15th century)??Dominican Hymnal
In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Italy, Bologna, c. 1430-40
With 17 miniatures
Statutes regulating the Wine Trade and Transportation of Wine in Bologna
In Italian, manuscript on parchment
Italy, Bologna, after 1416, c. 1450
Bartolomeus Bologninus, Commentary on the Imperial Constitution “Authenca Constitutione Habita”??In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper ??Italy, Bologna, dated 12 January 1492

at the
October 20 - 29
Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street
Daily 12pm - 8pm  Sunday and Thursday 12pm - 6pm
Les Louvre des Antiquaires,
2 Place du Palais-Royal,  75001 Paris (France)
Tel: +33 1 42 60 15 58