Seated ruler with two women and a saint

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MS M.786c
Seated ruler with two women and a saint
1 single leaf : vellum, ill. ; 245 x 195 mm
Purchased in London, at Sotheby's, July 10, 1965, lot 37.

Ms. leaf from a medieval manuscript with late 19th or early 20th century illumination.
Text on verso is from the vespers Magnificat for Jan. 7 and begins: videntes stellam.
Decoration: 1 large miniature on recto.
Artist: Spanish Forger.


The Spanish Forger was keenly aware of the growing market for single leaves and cuttings, producing nearly two hundred fifty of them for an unsuspecting public. The forger's nationality remains unknown, but Belle da Costa Greene named him the Spanish Forger after she had exposed a panel by him that was thought to be Spanish. This leaf was the first manuscript illumination tested using neutron activation analysis, resulting in the identification of the green pigment as copper arsenite or Paris green, which was not available before 1814. In 1978 the Spanish Forger became the first illuminator to be given a one-man show at the Morgan, causing Hilton Kramer to comment "that many a genuine artist has received a lot less from posterity."