King Robert II of France accepts the surrender of Melun, an illuminated miniature on vellum from the Grandes Chroniques de France. [Paris, c.1400-1410]
REMIET Perrin (1410)
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A SUPERB MINIATURE FROM THE GRANDES CHRONIQUES DE FRANCE
Square miniature enclosed by a gilt border, depicting the tall crowned figure in orange robes of King Robert II of France, attended by three courtiers, one of whom holds the royal sceptre, accepting the keys to the fortified city of Melun from four kneeling citizens who appear at the gate, against a decorated tiled background in dark blue with details in red and light blue; the miniature above a five-line illuminated initial ‘A’, in gold and blue with red and blue penwork, extending into border.
Miniature (105 x 93mm) on a vellum cutting (154 x 123mm), 6 lines of text in lettre bâtarde in brown ink, headings in red, in a single column, 25 lines on verso.
A superb miniature attributable to the Paris artist Perrin Remiet (fl. 1386-1428) from a manuscript of the Grandes Chroniques de France showing the splendid figure of the king of the Franks, Robert II (b.972, reigned 996-1031), accepting the keys to the finely depicted walled city of Melun, around 40km south east of Paris. The same subject also appears in a manuscript at the British Library (Royal MS 16 G VI, f.259r), opening the life of Robert.
The Grandes Chroniques de France was a hugely influential royal history of the kings of France, which advanced the past glories and chivalric destiny of the Valois family and their forebears. Manuscript copies were made for Charles VI (reigned 1380-1422) and his uncle the Duc de Berry (1340-1416) and were often distributed as a sign of royal patronage. Celebrated as one of the greatest achievements of medieval French historiography, the Grandes Chroniques was originally composed at the abbey of St Denis, near Paris in the late thirteenth century. It consists of a French translation of the Latin chronicles written by the monk-historians of St Denis and the first recension covered the history of France from its foundation after the Fall of Troy to the death of Philip Augustus (d. 1223). The historical narrative was then extended to include the reigns of subsequent monarchs.
Our cutting is one of four cited by Anne D. Hedeman, ascribed to the second artist of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ms fr. 823. This is the celebrated manuscript of Guillaume de Digulleville, Pèlerinage de la vie humaine, which includes the marginal instruction addressed to Perrin Remiet. The artist Remiet's gothic style is characterised by the use of a crisp black line to outline the figures, to define the curls of their hair and their large, deep-set eyes as well as the drapery; his miniatures are populated with these naturalistically modelled figures set against patterned backgrounds such as the tiled wall found here.
The identity of Perrin Remiet and attribution of his work has been the subject of some debate. The late Michael Camille decided that the first hand of ms fr. 823 Pélerinage was that of Remiet. Others, including F. Avril, suggest that the second hand - the artist of the present miniature - was, in fact, that of Remiet. The same artist illuminated two other manuscripts of the Grandes Chroniques de France, British Library Add MS 15269 and Turin, Bibl. Naz. Ms L.II.8 (reduced to fragments in the fire of 1904). He also collaborated in three other copies, BNF mss fr. 2606 and 2616-20, and Valenciennes, Bibl. Mun., ms 637, from the library of the dukes of Burgundy.
Provenance: Christies, 27 June 1979, lot 148 (one of 4 cuttings). Belgian private collection.
Anne D. Hedeman, The Royal Image, Illustrations of the Grandes Chroniques de France, 1274-1422, 1991, pp. 185 and 195. Michael Camille, Master of Death, 1996, pp. 13-25. 'Trois manuscrits napolitains des collections de Charles V et de Jean de Berry', Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 127 (1969), pp. 291-328.
Stock Code: 242802