Les Enluminures

3. Hours of the Virgin
Infancy cycle

Coronation of the Virgin
Simon Marmion

The typical miniature for the final Hour of Compline is the Coronation of the Virgin. With this subject, the traditional cycle illustrating the Infancy of Christ concludes with the last momentous event in Mary's life, her coronation by her Son as Queen of Heaven.

This miniature is by one of the greatest Flemish artists, Simon Marmion, who excelled in both illumination and panel painting. He based himself in Valenciennes and was active from the late 1450s till his death in 1489, executing commissions for the highly refined tastes of the court of Burgundy. This miniature exemplifies Marmion's subtle palette and his delicate figures with their gentle features and restrained gestures. Below the miniature is a border of strewn flowers, fruit, and even a fly. Such trompe-l'oeil borders will become a popular feature of late fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century Flemish manuscripts. Painted around 1480, this manuscript reveals Marmion to be an early master of these foliate marvels. The manuscript, however, was written and its textual borders painted in northern France a few years before. Marmion, commissioned to complete the book, expanded his miniatures beyond the customary area of the text block, allowing them and the borders below to fill out nearly all the available vellum surface to the very edges of the folios.