Pierre du Billant

(c. 1410—1476)

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(b ?nr Liège, c. 1410; d Aix- en-Provence, c. 1476). Embroiderer and painter. Possibly in the circle of Jan van Eyck, he was apparently active at the Burgundian court in the early 1430s. It was perhaps in Dijon, while a prisoner there in 1435–6, that René, Duke of Anjou, engaged him; Pierre is documented in Naples with René in 1440. The artist's first wife was Ydria Exters ‘d’Allemagne’ (d 1460), a widow and the mother of Barthélemy d’Eyck, presumably René's chief painter. In 1444 Pierre du Billant painted a chariot for René's daughter Margaret (1430–82) for her engagement to Henry VI, King of England, and in 1445 he received the substantial payment of 404 livres ‘pour ouvraiges de broderies faits à Tours’. In 1447 he painted on canvas a St Mary Magdalene (untraced), which René sent to his wife. Pierre headed a workshop in which his principal assistant is identified as Jean Gaultier. In 1448 he received 173 livres for unspecified works. In 1451 he painted shields, executed a satin purse and some 20 banners with a golden sun for René's son, Jean de Calabre, and embroidered jackets for pages and caparisons for horses, all gifts from René to Peter II, Duke of Brittany (reg 1450–57). In 1453 Pierre produced a ‘pavillon de broderie’, which René gave to his seneschal, and an antependium of golden cloth and chasubles for the Franciscan church of Angers. In connection with the transport of René's wardrobe, Pierre produced embroidered trappings for mules and fringes for the guards’ halberds. In 1454 he was given the honorary title of ‘valet de chambre’. Four extant arched embroidery panels with scenes of the Life and Miracles of St Martin (Lyon, Mus. Hist. Tissus; Castagnola, Batthyany Col.; Long Island, NY, Guennol, Bradley Martin Col.), executed in a Netherlandish style reminiscent of paintings produced in René's entourage, have been held to be part of the large commission gift of René to St Martin, Tours, which Pierre executed in 1445. Two other panels of the series are recorded in drawings in the Uppsala University Library.

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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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