Adoration of the Magi
Book of Hours, in Latin and French
Illuminated by Simon Marmion
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1900
Simon Marmion was called the very prince of book illumination by Renaissance poet Jean Lemaire, who also equated him with Jean Fouquet and Jan van Eyck. Based in Valenciennes, Marmion was active from the late 1450s until his death in 1489, executing commissions for the highly refined tastes of the court of Burgundy. This miniature of The Adoration of the Magi exemplifies the artist's subtle palette (he favors salmon pink, lilac, and pistachio green) and his delicate figures with their gentle features and restrained gestures. Below the miniature is a border of strewn flowers and berries. Such trompe-l'oeil borders would become a popular feature of Flemish manuscripts. Painted around 1480, this codex reveals Marmion to be an early master of these foliate marvels.