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Louis XII of France Kneeling in Prayer, Accompanied by Saints Michael, Charlemagne, Louis, and Denis
Jean Bourdichon (French, 1457 - 1521)
Tempera and gold on parchment
Ms. 79a, recto
Leaf: 24.3 × 15.7 cm (9 9/16 × 6 3/16 in.)
This leaf with its stirring portrait of Louis XII would originally have opened a lavish book of hours court artist Jean Bourdichon painted for him. The depiction of the king in his parade armor probably celebrates his recent coronation in 1498, and reflects an official image of the new king. Louis is presented (from left to right) by a number of royal saints: Saint Michael, the patron saint of the royal chivalric order; Saint Charlemagne, from whom the French kings traced their descent; Saint Louis of France, the king's namesake and his forebear on the throne; and Saint Denis, the patron of the French royal household. The finely observed portrait of Louis XII shows Bourdichon at the height of his artistic powers.
The Hours of Louis XII was one of the greatest French manuscripts of its time. Only sixteen of the manuscript's original complement of miniatures have come to light, and the Getty has acquired three of them. The other two are an image of the Presentation in the Temple, and a depiction of Bathsheba bathing.
Les chefs-d'oeuvre des collections privées françaises retrouvés en Allemagne par la Commission de Récupération Artistique et les Services Alliés (June to August, 1946)
- Musée de l'Orangerie (Paris), June to August 1946
A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XII (October 18, 2005 to May 1, 2006)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 18, 2005 to January 8, 2006
- Victoria and Albert Museum (London), February 2 to May 1, 2006
French Manuscript Illumination in the Middle Ages (January 23 to April 15, 2007)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2007
Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 12 to April 20, 2008
L'Art à Tours autour de 1500, entre Moyen-Âge et Renaissance (March 17 to June 17, 2012)
- Musée des Beaux-Arts (Tours), March 17 to June 17, 2012