A Lombard manuscript, Paris B.N. Latin 757 : associated manuscripts and the context of their illumination
The basis of this study is a close examination of the manuscripts which, in their decoration and illustration, form a stylistic group around the Book of Hours/Missal, Paris, B.N. Latin 757. Those painted in the same style are fr.343, Smith-Lesouef 22, n.a.lat.1673, Latin 8045, all in the Biblioth'que Nationale, and.s.2.3l (Latin 862) in the Biblioteca Estense, Modena. Two other manuscripts which are less closely related to this central group, Paris, B.N. n.a.fr .5243 and Munich Staatsbibliothek Latin 23215, are also discussed. Details of the decoration have made possible the identification of the original owner of two of the Books of Hours, Latin 757 and Smith-Lesouf 22, as Bertrando de' Rossi, conte di San Secondo (c.1346-1396), and of the romance Guiron le Courtois, n.a.fr .5243, as Bernab Visconti. Some aspects both of the finished painting and of the distribution of work in the unfinished manuscripts indicate that these books were the product of collaboration between more than one painter. The division of work however, is usually by process and not by unit and the essential characteristics of the style seem to be dependent upon one artist. Previously the manuscripts in the style of Latin 757 have all been dated to c.1380. Here the sequence in which they were decorated between c.1383 to c.1395 is established. These books are the earliest group of Lombard manuscrits-de-luxe to have survived. This style seems to have evolved in response to the demand for luxury books from the Milanese court. It is suggested here that the interest in illuminated books of Bernab? Visconti and his court may have been more influential than the later and, as far as it is known, restricted patronage of his nephew Giangaleazzo and that, correspondingly, Milan had ascendancy over Pavia as a centre for book-production at the end of the fourteenth century.