Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Holy Virgins Greeted by Christ as They Enter the Gates of Paradise

Simon Marmion (French, Amiens ca. 1425–1489 Valenciennes)
ca. 1467–70
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment
6 1/4 x 4 9/16 in. (15.8 x 11.6cm)
Painted Area: 5 15/16 x 4 5/16 in. (15.1 x 11cm)
Justification: 4 3/16 x 2 13/16 in. (10.7 x 7.1cm)
Manuscripts and Illuminations
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
This miniature, depicting the Holy Virgins being greeted by Christ at the gates of paradise, was originally part of a breviary, which is a book containing the Divine Office for recitation on each day of the Roman Catholic calendar. The image would have faced the opening lines of the text for the Common of Virgins. The location and orientation of the image within the book is confirmed by the text on the back of this miniature, which is the end of the Common of Confessors—a section that traditionally precedes the Common of Virgins. Marmion has divided the leaf into three scenes, each of which illustrates part of the text of the Common of the Virgins. Among the figures in all three scenes is the abbess of a religious order, identifiable by her black habit, whose identity and meaning have yet to be unraveled.This book must have been lavishly illustrated, since full-page miniatures in the Common of Saints section, like this one, were rare. The generous use of gold leaf further underscores the expense of the original manuscript, which was begun for Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, in 1467, and finished in 1470 for Charles the Bold, Philip's son and successor. A surviving document indicates that the manuscript had 624 folios, 95 miniatures, and was illustrated for the ducal court by Simon Marmion and his workshop. This breviary was one of a number of works undertaken by Marmion, one of the most esteemed illuminators and painters of his generation.
Inscription: On the recto is the end of the text of the Common of Confessors, "bitux. R. Justum deduxit d[omi]n[u]s. Per vias...qui edificavit domu[m] sua[m] sup[er] petram," written in brown ink in a rounded textualis gotica formata book hand on approximately 26-28 lines (only 13 lines are written), no visible ruling, justification 10.8 x 7.1 cm., rubrics in red, some underlining, with a one-line silver gray initial on a gold ground and a two-line silver gray acanthus initial on a gold ground. Written in pencil on the recto at the lower left: I (circled); at the lower right: 07041 (an A.S. Drey lot number) / oky / VROYY

Marking: Verso: inscribed under the angel in the bas-de-page scene: Venite omnes virgines.
[A.S. Drey, Munich (no. 070410)]. Acquired by Robert Lehman from A.S. Drey on 1 February 1930.
Sandra Hindman, Chicago, Mirella Levi D'Ancona, Pia Palladino, and Maria Francesca Saffiotti. "Illuminations." Robert Lehman Collection. IV, New York, 1997.

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