Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian

  • active about 1475 - 1515
  • Illuminator
  • Flemish

The anonymous artist known as the Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian was named for his work in the earliest of the devotional manuscripts made for Maximilian, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1459-1519). Subsequently, a large number of manuscripts were grouped around this artist and attributed to either him or his workshop. The productive workshop of the Maximilian Master involved a number of collaborators who shared patterns, similar figure types, and often a comparable sense of coloring; however, the results of their efforts often vary in quality.

The most consistent aspects of style shared by the miniatures associated with the Maximilian Master and his workshop include relatively large, broad figures with strong brows, sloping foreheads, and pointed jaws, and a gray undertone that is seen especially in the faces. The extended career of the Maximilian Master and the numerous complicated commissions he seems to have directed have prompted some scholars to identify him with the Flemish illuminator Alexander Bening, whose name is only known from guild records and other documents.