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Jean Bourdichon


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(b ?Tours, c.1457; d Tours, 1521).

French manuscript illuminator and painter, active in Tours, which at this time was the main royal residence. He was probably a pupil of Fouquet and succeeded him as the leading French painter of the time, working for a succession of royal patrons, including Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Anne of Brittany, who married both these kings in turn. For Anne, Bourdichon produced his only firmly documented work—the Hours of Anne of Brittany (completed 1508, Bib. Nat., Paris), one of the loveliest of all Books of Hours. It contains numerous exquisite borders of plants and insects, together with 49 full-page miniatures (originally there were probably two more)—mainly scenes from the New Testament and lives of the saints, but also including a portrait of Anne at prayer. Some of the religious scenes show such strong Renaissance influence that it seems almost certain Bourdichon had visited Italy. A number of other illuminated manuscripts are confidently attributed to him on stylistic grounds and he effectively ends the great French tradition in this art. Bourdichon is also recorded as painting works on a larger scale, but the only surviving example generally accepted as his is a triptych of the Madonna and Child with Saints in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples.

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