Anonymous Artist, Crucifixion with Mary and John, from a Missal
This large miniature of the Crucifixion from a Missal typifies Renaissance illumination in France in the sixteenth century. A monumental figure of Christ hangs on the cross before a lush distant landscape with cumulous clouds over a distant city set on a river. On either side of Christ stand the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist, their bodies distorted in mannerist poses and the drapery of their billowing robes highlighted in liquid gold. A cross inside a cartouche is seen below, as in many Crucifixion miniatures for the Canon of the Mass from manuscript Missals, which was kissed by the priest during Mass, preventing damage to the picture above.
Myra Orth reportedly believed this work to be by an unidentified artist of the French Renaissance, probably a painter working in the Loire Valley related to the Master of Francois de Rohan and others contemporary with the patronage of King Francis I, sometimes grouped together as the 1520s Hours workshop. The distant landscape, emotive faces of the figures, and the crossed-arm pose of the Virgin can be roughly compared to a Crucifixion miniature dated 1539 by the Master of Francois de Rohan in the Hours of Francis I at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The verso is written with five lines of music notation on four-line staves in red (rastrum 17mm.), the miniature trimmed closely to the painted frame and cartouche, with some losses of paint at the top corners from water damage.
Unpublished. For comparison see M. D. Orth, Renaissance Manuscripts: The Sixteenth Century, London and Turnhout, 2015.