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La Nativité

1460 vers ; 1470
parchemin (peint, doré) H. 11.6 cm ; l. 15.7 cm
inv. M-6281
don Wildenstein Daniel (donateur) (1981 acquis)
Born in Utrecht and active in Flanders, Willem (or Guillaume) Vrelant was one of the most famous illuminators of the second half of the 15th century. He and his wife directed a flourishing workshop in Bruges, where he had a wealthy clientele of bourgeois, clerics, senior officials, and members of the nobility. However, his most remarkable work was done mainly for the dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Good, and his son, Charles the Bold. Sometimes described as archaic, his manner nevertheless reveals the influence of early Flemish painters, notably in his compositions and the expressiveness of the figures. In this Nativity, which served as an illustration to an edition of the Golden Legend (the pages are now shared between New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, ms. M. 672–675, and Mâcon, municipal library, ms. 3), the linearity of Vrelant’s outlines and his grisaille rendering both show the influence of engraving.