Maelwael Van Lymborch Studies, Volume II

Release: October 2022

Table of Contents

Prelude Pieter Roelofs (Rijksmuseum)
Johan Maelwael & the Van Lymborch Brothers: New Perspectives
(pp. 6-9)


1- Susie Nash (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
The Martyrdom of St Denis, the Chartreuse de Champmol and 12 the Battle of Nicopolis
 (pp. 12-45)
The large panel of the Trinity with the Communion and Martyrdom of St Denis in the Louvre is a central work in the history of early French and Netherlandish painting. It has suffered from the long and unresolved debate concerning its authorship and documentation. This groundbreaking research based on a meticulous study of the sources solves a number of essential questions: Who made it? When exactly was it made? For which purpose and with which meaning? Where was it on display? What was its pendant? How did the context of the aftermath of the Battle of Nicopolis had an impact on the representation of the martyrdom of St Denis in Burgundian art?

2- David de Bruijn Kops (Independent scholar, Amsterdam) 
Pseudo-Arabic Inscriptions in the work of Claus Sluter, Johan 46 Maelwael, Henri Bellechose, and the Van Lymborch Brothers during the Post-Nicopolis Reign of Philip the Bold and John the Fearless, 1398-1419
 (pp. 46-77)

      The so-called pseudo-Arabic inscriptions we come across in Christian art of Burgundy and Berry during the first two decades of the fifteenth century have barely been researched before, although they are of significant importance to the process of attribution and dating, and can help us to reach a deeper understanding of these works and their makers. No study was centered around this group of pseudo-inscriptions before, but we know that they were painted around the reign of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1419; r. 1404-19), by a limited number of artists: court painter Johan Maelwael (c. 1370-1415), his successor Henri Bellechose (fl. 1415-c. 1445), and Maelwael’s nephews Herman, Paul and Johan van Lymborch (c. 1385-1416), who were employed by Jean de France, Duke of Berry, after 1404. Stylistically, these pseudo-inscriptions are uniquely ‘Burgundian’, but at the same time they are part of an international tradition of adding pseudo-Arabic script to Christian art in the West. 

THEME II: New, unique discoveries

3- Rob Dückers (Emerson College, European Center Well)
An Unrecorded Book of Hours for John, Duke of Berry?
(pp. 80-109)
      Early in 2018, a leaf from an early 15th-century French book of hours was offered for sale online. It was described by its then owner, a German private collector, as a leaf from a book of hours illuminated by a workshop in the circle of the Van Lymborch brothers. The leaf on offer was a text-leaf, with beautiful ivy- or bryony-leaf borders and decorated initials, but lacking any major painted decoration. Nevertheless, the seller noted – likely based on a certificate of authenticity that accompanied the leaf - the similarity between the border designs of the leaf and those found in the Belles Heures (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. This richly decorated book of hours was made for of Jean, Duke of Berry (1340-1416) between 1405 and 1408 (or early 1409), and illuminated with exquisite miniatures by the Van Lymborch brothers. The similarity in border-type found in both this leaf and the Belles Heures is the start of a indepth research after the artist who created the margin decorations, his oeuvre and his connection with the Van Lymborchs and library of John, Duke of Berry. 

4- Frits Scholten 
(Head of Department of Sculpture, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Claus Sluter in the Rijksmuseum
(pp. 110-125)

      Although considered the most important Dutch sculptor of the Middle Ages until recently no work of art was part of a Dutch collection. This article analyses the reception and reputation of his work in The Netherlands and especially the Rijksmuseum. From the very beginning the national museum of art paid tribute to him: in the decoration programme of the building he was depicted no less then four times. In 1924 a hollow plaster cast of the 'Well of Moses' with the sculptures of Sluter were on display in the Great Hall of the museum. In 1939 the museum did their utmost to acquire two mourners, which failed. Only in 2020 the Rijksmuseum succeeded in acquiring a beautiful Calvary, a 57 cm. high boxwood sculpture, attributed to Sluter.

THEME III: The Practice of Illuminators, Painters & Margin Decorators

5- Inès Villela-Petit (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris)
Painter versus Illuminator. Looking for Paul van Lymborch.
(pp. 128-159)
       The archives distinguish with a certain constancy between painter and illuminator, even when the former is brought to paint miniatures in a book. As both mastered painting technics and used pigments in a flat surface, common knowledge tends to ignore their proper ‘métier’ and favor recognizing the hand whatever the medium. Can we therefore just consider that these trades were undifferentiated and the qualifier only correlated to the patron’s order and wish? Are we dealing with a single profession, or two? And what kind of specifities can we notice in the practices and crafts? In our opinion, painterly qualities may distinguish the hand of Paul the painter among the Van Lymborch atelier and explain his personal success in the duke’s esteem.

6- Ella Letort
(Curatorial Research Fellow, Armagh Robinson Library)

Plagues and Processions: Re-Examining the Drawings of Ms. Douce 144 (pp. 160-179)
       This article focuses on a series of metalpoint drawings associated with the Van Lymborch brothers found in Ms. Douce 144 (Bodleian Library, Oxford). It explores their connection to miniatures in the Belles Heures, Très Riches Heures, the frontispiece of Philip the Bold’s Bible moralisée, and the newly discovered Drawn Hours. New material evidence is presented concerning the date and artist responsible for the drawings, and they are considered within the context of the manuscript for which they were made.’


7- André Stufkens and Jacobus Trijsburg (Maelwael Van Lymborch Studies Foundation)
The Seal and Blazon of Johan Maelwael (pp. 180-203)
       The seal and coat of arms of Johan Maelwael have been known since the end of the 19th century, but so far only the orthography has been examined, which has led to much confusion. Even though the surviving stamps have been damaged, it can still be traced that he himself wrote his name as Johan Maelwael. Until now his coat of arms was never examined. Its three linden leaves and central bud is depicted in three contemporary armorials as well as the founding certificate of Cleves Order of Knighthood. The high social position of the Maelwael family in the County of Cleves and the city of Nijmegen corresponds to the status of Johan Maelwael’s in-laws. This partly explains the ease with which Johan Maelwael rose to the positions of head of the workshop of Philip the Bold in Dijon, as well as his valet de chambre.

8- André Stufkens (Maelwael Van Lymborch Studies Foundation)
The Exaltation of the Cross. A High Density of Meanings: From Africans to Zacharias. (pp. 204-245)
      The intriguing miniature in folio 193r of the Très Riches Heures, accompanying the Prayers for the Mass of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 14 September, aroused admiration in the 1970s from American art historian Millard Meiss: ‘Unprecedented', 'An entirely novel representation', and 'Constitutes one of the most beautiful passages in the manuscript'. Meiss claims that The Exaltation has such an intense density of meaning at several levels that it caused confusion and misunderstanding among both contemporaries of the artists and modern scholars who failed to recognize its full significance. The various layers of meaning can clarify why the narratives visualized in The Exaltation are amazingly consistent in their detailed perfection and interconnectivity. The representation of this prayer by the Van Lymborchs is much more embedded in their own and Johan Maelwael's oeuvre than has been demonstrated in previous publications, which leaves sufficient room for a considerable reassessment.

Notes on Contributors pp. 246-247

Index pp. 248-259

Credits of photos p. 259

Colophon p. 260

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