Jean Corbechon, Livre des propriétés des choses

Instructions to Artists

Artists' Techniques

The instructions were inscribed within the background areas, specifying what colour or pattern they should be painted: ‘rot’ and ‘root’ (‘red’ in German and Middle Dutch respectively, fols. 163r and 174r), ‘himel’ (‘sky’ in German, fols. 166v and 247v), and a phrase which appears to include the word ‘bos’ (‘bouquet of flowers’ in Middle Dutch, fol. 104r). This may refer to the background’s white lilies, the patron’s emblem. It was standard practice for illuminators to paint backgrounds first, before filling in the figures and other components of a given miniature. Often the less demanding task of painting the backgrounds was assigned to assistants, as in this case. The Mazarine Master must have written the instructions for his German- or Dutch-speaking assistants while designing the miniatures.