A collection of rare, illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval and Renaissance eras owned by the late New York philanthropists Elaine and Alexander Rosenberg will go under the hammer at Christie’s in a live auction on April 23rd in New York. The collection comprises seventeen illuminated manuscripts and more than two hundred printed books from the Renaissance. The full collection is expected to sell for $8 million.
“This ranks among the best collections of illuminated manuscripts in private hands at the moment to be offered at auction in the last 50 years,” – Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s senior specialist of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.
The 17 illuminated manuscripts offered for sale are exquisite examples of 15th- and 16th-century European manuscript painting and are the work of some of the most sought-after and accomplished artists of the French Renaissance: the Bedford Master, the Master of the Paris Bartholomaeus Anglicus, the Master of Jacques de Besançon, and the Master of Jean de Mauléon. Each manuscript contains a gallery of miniature paintings and illuminations.
Interestingly, these illuminated manuscripts were not meant for religious use but instead were created for their lay owners to admire. As a result, the manuscripts are varied and even personalized according to the tastes of their owners.
So many volumes in this collection are still in their original 15th-century bindings, often decorated with specific techniques that can be traced to workshops in both Germany and across the Alps.
Among the printed Renaissance books is an extremely rare first-edition Plato translated by scholar Marsilio Ficino and printed by the nuns of San Jacopo di Ripoli in 1484–85. It is valued at an estimate of $200,000–$400,000.
All proceeds of the sale will benefit designated museums for the support of their rare book departments.
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