Simon Bening (Netherlandish, 1483/841561)
Tempera on parchment; 3 3/8 x 2 1/4 in. (8.6 x 5.7 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.2487)
Written in gold on a red background is an inscription that identifies this miniature as a self-portrait of the famous Bruges illuminator: Simon Bennik, the son of Alexander, painted this himself at the age of 75 in 1558. The aged, but still practicing artist pauses from his work, a Virgin and Child in the drawing stage, propped up on an easel next to various painting materials. This depiction allies Bening with Luke, the patron saint of painting, who is traditionally shown painting an image of the Virgin. It was probably made as an independent work, rather than as part of a book, at a time when autonomous miniatures increasingly came into production. A second version of this miniature is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.