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BOURDICHON Jean
Le Baiser de Judas

1498 ; 1499
parchemin (peint, doré) H. 20 cm ; l. 13.5 cm
inv. M-6193
don Wildenstein Daniel (donateur) (1981 acquis)
Jean Bourdichon, a painter and illuminator from Tours, was the student and successor of Jean Fouquet as painter to King Louis XI. His art, influenced by the new painting from Italy, was popular at court, where he remained painter to the kings Charles VIII, Louis XII, and François I. This leaf is one of sixteen large miniatures that originally illustrated a book of prayers made for Louis XII. This manuscript probably opened with a portrait of the sovereign facing a Madonna and Child, which was followed by the four Evangelists. The Kiss of Judas presumably introduced the Passion according to John. Its format and its composition surrounded, like an easel painting, by a fine gilt frame, this work shares a number of characteristics with the Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ms. lat. 9474), another masterpiece by Bourdichon. Here, the image faithfully reflects the gospel story and the night effect heightens the solemnity of Christ’s arrest. The varied range of colors, enlivened by fine touches of gold paint on the dresses and armor, is typical of the Bourdichon style, reflecting the evolution in his illustrations from Gothic to Renaissance.