Alexander and the Niece of Artaxerxes III
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Attributed to the Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation
Flemish, Bruges, about 1470 - 1475
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
17 x 13 in.

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In a setting reminiscent of the rich interiors of the Burgundian court, Alexander the Great sits enthroned beneath a canopy at a banquet table. He calls before him one of the women he noticed among the Persian captives. As she kneels before him, he recognizes her as the niece of Artaxerxes III, an earlier king of Persia. Alexander orders an attendant to return her belongings, which he passes to her in a wooden casket. He also orders a search for her husband, who may be the figure in the long blue robe in the foreground.

This episode from the conqueror's history demonstrates Alexander's princely character, magnanimous even toward a captive because of her noble birth. The illuminator chose not to represent Quintus Curtius Rufus's description of Alexander's drinking at the banquet, because that would have been an example of debauchery indicative of Alexander's moral decline.

In this miniature depicting Alexander's court life, a blue and gold tapestry hangs on the back wall and Alexander sits at a richly set table on a raised platform. Well-dressed courtiers and musicians around him attend to his needs. The illuminator set up a deep perspective receding into space within the great hall.

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