Master of the Brussels Initials

  • active about 1389 - 1410
  • Illuminator
  • Italian

The Master of the Brussels Initials was an anonymous illuminator who began his career in the late 1300s in a prominent workshop in Bologna. His name comes from the fifteen historiated initials he painted in a book of hours , now in Brussels, commissioned by Jean, duc de Berry.

The Master's career developed parallel to the growth of international workshops active in book production in the late Middle Ages. After enjoying a successful career in Bologna for more than a decade, he moved to the Ile-de-France, where he adapted the more pastel and subtle colors of French court illumination. To the many manuscripts that he decorated in France, he introduced not only stocky Bolognese figure types but also an exuberant style of border decoration teeming with large acanthus leaves, frolicking putti, and amusing zoomorphic figures. The mix of Italian and French elements in this artist's work epitomizes the character of European court painting around 1400, appropriately called the International style.