Les Enluminures

4. Hours of the Cross and Holy Spirit

Maître François

The Short Hours of the Cross are typically illustrated with the Crucifixion. Some representations contain more narrative details than others; this one occupies a middle ground. The Evangelist John supports the swooning Virgin Mary at the left of the cross. Directly behind them, one of the soldiers pierces Christ’s torso with a spear. Pilate’s soldiers stand to the left of the cross. Although the Crucifixion occurred at None, which is 3 o’clock in the afternoon, a night sky sprinkled with gold stars provides the backdrop. A beautiful trompe l’oeil bejeweled frame contrasts effectively with the pathos of the central scene.

The Maître François dominated Parisian manuscript production during two decades of the fifteenth century between c. 1460 and 1480. He is identified in a document by Robert Gaguin dated 1473 (“peintre François”) as responsible for a manuscript of St. Augustine’s City of God (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 18).