Master of the Burgundian Prelates

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(fl c.1470–90). Illuminator, active in France. Reynaud assembled a large group of manuscripts under this name, including two Missals (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 879; Siena, Bib. Com. Intronati, MS. X.V.I.), a Pontifical (Autun, Bib. Mun., MS. 129) and a Breviary (Chaumont, Bib. Mun., MSS 32–3). They were made between 1475 and 1490 for several high-ranking Burgundian church officials, after whose patronage the Master is named. He may also have been employed by one of them, Ferry de Clugny (d 1483), to paint the frescoes in the Chapelle Dorée of Autun Cathedral between 1473 and 1480, although their ruined state makes attribution difficult. This, and the liturgical use of the other manuscripts associated with his hand, such as the Book of Hours of Autun Use (London, BL, Sloane MS. 2419), suggests that the Master was based in the Burgundian region, working for a prestigious but predominantly local clientele. His style is characterized by its calm sobriety, created partly by a distinctive palette of dull rose, dark blue, grey and matt gold. His figures are still, with softly modelled faces that are meditative rather than expressive and with eyes averted or turned towards Heaven in restrained gestures of piety and awe. Drapery is hatched with a mesh of gold lines; architecture and landscapes are often outlined with touches of white. The Master's compositions are static and show little interest in drama or narration, but his style is ideally suited to devotional images, such as the full page Crucifixion in the Missal of Richard Chambellan (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 879). This illumination, like several others attributed to this Master, is large in size and independent from any text or subsidiary decoration, which lends it the character of a small panel rather than a decorated page. It is his most accomplished work and reaches a standard not found in all the manuscripts of this group.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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