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Masterworks showcased at Les Enluminures stand at The 2013 Winter Antiques Show
Mid 16th century Italian gold and enamel ring with 18th century Intaglio.
PARIS.- Les Enluminures gallery of Paris, New York and Chicago will be showing an extraordinary array of masterworks created between 1300 and the mid 16th century in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.

Dr. Sandra Hindman, owner and founder of Les Enluminures, which celebrated its 20th anniversary year by expanding and opening a new gallery in an historic townhouse at 23 East 73 Street in New York City, says, “Our exhibition of important 14-16th century artworks underscores the range of talents and diverse sources seen during these critical centuries.”

“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 the fair. We are delighted to be exhibiting among such an acclaimed number of top dealers participating in this much-anticipated arts event.”

A specialist in Medieval and Renaissance Art, Dr. Hindman has been innovative about employing new technologies and social media to better inform and educate those interested in learning more about these rare works of art. The Les Enluminures stand at The Winter Antiques Show will feature the same I-Pad equipped device-on-a-stand with its advanced “turn the pages” feature the gallery employed when it launched its new gallery in New York in May. The “turn the pages” technology is also available on the Les Enluminures web site, which acts as a portal to its four areas of specialty – Illuminated Manuscripts, Miniatures, Finger Rings and Books of Hours. The web site’s video tours of the gallery describe exhibitions and individual art works.

Dr. Hindman is especially pleased to be showing a Gothic chair of wood and polychrome originating in Castile, Spain. “This painted wooden chair was produced during the thirteenth or early fourteenth century. Formerly the base of a seated sculpture, most likely of the Madonna and Child (the “Sedes Sapientiae” or Seat of Wisdom), it is in excellent condition. The original red polychrome is intact on both its exterior and interior. A geometric pattern of quatrefoils within diamonds runs along both the outer sides of the chair’s arms and legs, with a decorative ribbon of gold ornament accompanying the design. Small wave-like adornments are carved atop each leg.”

“Small circular holes that once held the sculpture in place were drilled into the seat and base. There is a large square puncture in the center of the base, which was most likely used for fitting a single pole to carry the sculpture on its chair in procession. It is apparent that the sculpture was carved independent of the chair, signaling its origins in the early Gothic period, rather than in the Romanesque. The separation of chair from statue in Spain dates from the period when statues in Limoges enamel began to be imported and needed chairs to fit. Later Gothic chairs became, however, much more ornate, resembling thrones, with finials and blind arcades.”

Dr. Hindman adds that “Many devotional sculptures, which depict the Madonna and Child, still exist in their original surroundings in small churches or cathedrals throughout Spain. Scholarship from the mid-twentieth century has documented a vast number of these seated Madonnas; almost none are recorded without a chair. As vulnerable objects, these sculptures were easily damaged during ritual processions and replaced. This could explain the missing sculpture. We have been unable to locate any other independent chairs, probably because without the Madonna, the chair was no longer considered a significant object and would have been discarded. This early Gothic chair thus survives approximately 700 years after its creation as a rare example of an important accessory and an even rarer piece of Gothic furniture.” (H. 62 cm. x W. 43 cm. x D. 37 cm).

At the Les Enluminures stand at the Park Avenue Armory (at 67th Street) -- again host for The Winter Antiques Show -- visitors will also see a significant Book of Hours (Use of Rome) – in Latin and created in Bruges in the Southern Netherlands, circa 1450.

An illuminated manuscript on parchment with 37 full-page miniatures, 13 small miniatures, and 8 historiated initials, by the Gold Scrolls Painter of Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, MS Gris. 4, Dr. Hindman says “This Book of Hours has special merit because the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, first coined by F. Winkler in 1925, is now thought to refer to a style practiced by a group of artists, not to a single hand, active between about 1415 and 1455 probably in Bruges, Brussels and Paris. Named for the dominant use of gold scrolls on flat, often burnt orange grounds in the backgrounds of many of the miniatures, the style is also characterized by the presentation of figures with oval doll-like faces, the nose, mouth, and eyes summarily treated. They are drawn with supple, unbroken lines and make stereotyped gestures. The prevailing colors are green, blue, red and orange.”

“The style of these artists is formed by a combination of influences. There is a manuscript begun by the Boucicaut Master and finished by the Gold Scrolls Masters, the Hours of Joseph Bonaparte (Paris, BnF, MS. lat. 10538), and at the same time in some of the early production there is also the influence of the “ars nova” or pre-Eyckian artists, such as the Master of the Beaufort Saints. By the end of the lengthy span of production, the artists collaborate with those of the generation of Willem Vrelant, for example on the Montfort Book of Hours (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. s.n. 12878).”

She adds that “The discovery of any significant manuscript from the workshop presents a welcome opportunity to sort out further questions of the production of the Masters of the Gold Scrolls. The present manuscript, although modest in height and width, is exceptionally rich both in ancillary texts (it is almost 400 folios thick) and in illustration, including nearly sixty pictures. Beginning with a Calendar, followed by two special Suffrages, nearly the whole first third of the manuscript is made up of the relatively unusual Hours of the Days of the Week (from the Sunday Hours of the Trinity to the Friday Hours of the Cross). These are followed by the traditional Hours of the Virgin, the Hours of the Passion, the Penitential Psalms, and the Office of the Dead, and then by a large number of Suffrages, mostly addressed to male saints. The presence of two different versions of the “O intemerata,” a prayer requesting the Virgin’s intercession, is especially remarkable. The “Obsecro te” and both versions of the “O intemerata” are written in the masculine form, and there is a paucity of female saints in the Suffrages, which suggest that the patron was a man.”

“Indeed, the unusual emphasis on Louis of Toulouse and Francis of Assisi, with their Suffrages occupying a place of honor at the beginning of the book just after the Calendar and before any of the Hours, suggests that our book’s patron was a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. Saint Louis of Toulouse, cadet of the royal house of Anjou, was embraced by the Franciscans. The Franciscan Tertiaries included both congregations of vowed men and women and fraternities of men and women, who lived standard lives in the world usually married. Otherwise unidentified, the original owner is represented twice in the manuscript, once with his wife on f. 65v and once alone on f. 105v (the full-page armorials on f. 3 are unfinished and were added, in any event, in the later fifteenth century).”

A third attraction at the Les Enluminures stand is a stunning Renaissance Ring of gold and enamel made in Italy in the mid-16th century, with an Intaglio dating to the 18th century. The ring carries important provenance, being from the collections of Ernst Guillou and Ralph Harari (1893-1969).

Dr. Hindman says, “This ring shows the refinement of the jeweler’s art. A number of different techniques are used to model the gold, which was first cast using the lost-wax technique and then assembled by soldering. An openwork design is used for the junction of the hoop and the bezel to produce the baroque volute motif. The enamel gives the ring a polychromatic effect: opaque white and blue, along with translucent green and red enamel, decorate the gadrooned collet of the bezel in which an agate intaglio of a man’s head is set. The agate rests upon a small foundation of black mortar. There is a hallmark of an eagle’s head on the hoop. Despite a few losses to the enamel, this ring with its sophisticated decoration and complex techniques of fabrication is in an excellent state of conservation.”

She adds that “Relatively few rings are in circulation from these two collections, the former dispersed in 1937 (London, Sotheby’s) and the latter exhibited (June 1976), then catalogued and published (1977) by Diana Scarisbrick and John Boardman for S. J. Phillips Ltd., who acquired and sold the Harari collection. Harari was a politician, banker, business man and art collector with a special interest in engraved gems, cameos and intaglios, which perhaps accounts for his acquisition of this ring, a fine example of a Renaissance cusped ring with half crescents, volutes and strapwork, but unusual in that it is adorned with an eighteenth-century intaglio. Probably the original ring had lost its stone.

Hindman says that “The extreme fragility of enamel, which has often worn away, makes it difficult to determine the original appearance of Renaissance rings. It is often assumed that most Renaissance rings of this or similar models possessed multicolored enamels, but evidence in paintings suggests otherwise. A Flemish portrait from the circle of Frans Pourbus (Private Collection, ex-Rafael Valls), datable to [15]79, shows a woman wearing two box bezel and cusped rings entirely void of enamel. Evidence from other northern European portraits also suggests a limited palette, sometimes just in black and white enamel. On the other hand, Italian portraits from the same period, such as a painting entitled La Bella Nani by Paolo Veronese of c. 1560-65 (Paris, Musée du Louvre), show rings with multi-colored enamel, such as appears on this ring.” The ring weighs 6.45 grams with a height of 29 mm.; hoop inner diameter of 18.6 mm.; hoop outer diameter of 24 mm.; and a bezel of 15 x 17 mm.

Now beginning its third decade in business, LES ENLUMINURES, with a gallery in Paris close by the Louvre, a New York gallery on 73rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, and offices in Chicago, is well known to collectors, curators and librarians from its participation in the most important international art fairs. Besides New York’s Winter Antiques Show, Les Enluminures exhibits in March at TEFAF in Maastricht; in June at Masterpiece London; in October at the Firenze Biennale; and at several other fairs including the Salon du Dessin and the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.

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.”

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 21 years ago. 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. American clients include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Morgan Library in New York, the Getty in Los Angeles and universities and libraries from coast to coast.



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