Jean Fouquet (French, ca. 1425ca. 1478)
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment; 7 5/8 x 5 3/4 in. (19.4 x 14.6 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.2490)
The Hours of Étienne Chevalier is one of the most famous and lavishly illuminated manuscripts of the fifteenth century. It was painted for the treasurer of France by Jean Fouquet, court artist to kings Charles VII and Louis XI, who worked not only as a miniaturist but also as a panel painter and scenery designer. The Lehman miniature decorates the page that contains the opening words of the evening prayer (vespers) for the Hours of the Holy Spirit. It shows the faithful standing in the foreground on a terrace, looking up at the hand of God, as demons flee to the left and right. The subject is highly unusual, as is the topographically accurate depiction of medieval Paris, in which the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the spire of Saint-Chapelle, the Pont Saint-Michel, and other monuments of the Île de la Cité (including the Hôtel de Nesle, where the figures stand) are immediately recognizable.