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The English Fleet in Flemish Waters
Master of the Getty Froissart (Flemish, active about 1475 - 1485)
Bruges, Belgium (Place Created)
about 1480 - 1483
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
Ms. Ludwig XIII 7 (83.MP.150), fol. 169
Leaf: 48 × 35 cm (18 7/8 × 13 3/4 in.)
In this miniature from Jean Froissart's Chronicle, the illuminator presented a startlingly fresh image of the English navy anchored near the mouth of the Thames in Margate where they lie in wait to capture rich Flemish merchants and their goods. The miniature suggests the material power and readiness of the English navy. On a bare shore, a single tower with a banner stands beside three loaded ships. Their hulls extend in bulging curves, suggesting their great weight, and soldiers in full armor crowd the decks. The rolled-up sails indicate that their voyage has not yet begun, but it is clearly imminent.
The artist rendered precise details of ship construction, including the enormous rudders, the intricate rigging, and the overlapping planks of wood that form the hulls. Conditions of weather and water also interested him: the lively waves breaking against the hulls have whitecaps, and the darkening clouds on the left indicate that a storm is brewing. The storm serves an additional function by alluding symbolically to the coming conflict of war.
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