Maître de Vyssi Brod et de Guillaume de Machaut, peintre et enlumineur au XIVe siècle. Etude sur Jean de Bondol et son rapport avec l'art en Bohême.Luxembourg 2018

 

To solve some of the great riddles of Art History is the challenge and aim of ARB’s research. After Jean Perreal, on whom she has been focused already for some decades, she is investigating now on another distinguished royal court painter (the one she had already written a memory about in 1989). Her theory is exposed in her new book.

 

First, there has to be explained the title of her publication: There are known numerous anonymous artists that are designed after their most outstanding works. Here there are two, the master of Vyssi Brod and the one of Guillaume de Machaut. The author comes to conclude that they are identical. How to explain that: if it were so, nobody of the art-experts has as yet uttered this possibility?

 

The cycle of Vyssi Brod is composed of nine painted panels that decorated in earlier times the main altar of the Cistercian monastery of Vyssi Brod (Hohenfurth) in Bohemia (Tchechian Republik), and are now exposed in the National Gallery in Prague. They illustrate the most important moments in the life of Jesus Christ.

 

Experts say that it is possible to determine four different hands of artists. That may be, the author says, but the outstanding quality and harmony of the whole prove that this whole cycle is the concept of one mind, that of the so-called “Master of Vyssi Brod”. He may have painted himself the most delicate parts of the cycle, like the portraits of the queen of heaven, but not the whole pictures. He probably presented his conception in the form of coloured designs or miniatures.

 

On the second panel there is to be seen a huge shield with a red rose, the weapon of the Rosenberg family. The Rosenberg were great landowners in the south of Bohemia and rivals to the crown. Despite this, a hidden message shows that the altar was ordered, not by them, but by the emperor. Charles IV offered it to the monastery constructed by this noble family. This leads to the first conclusion, namely that the Master of Vyssi Brod was a painter in the service of the emperor, and that he also participated in the decoration of the medieval castle of Karlstein.

 

The next question is: was he an autochthon artist or did he join the emperor because he knew him from the time Charles IV was educated at the French royal court? The answer is that he came from Western Europe and that there is a hope to find him among the court painters of the middle of the fourteenth century.

 

So step by step this investigation goes on, until it becomes clear the Master of Vyssi Brod is identical to the illustrator of one of the complete works of Guillaume de Machaut. Machaut was a brilliant poet who had started his career in the service of John of Luxembourg, the father of Charles IV. Until now, this illuminator was called “Master of Machaut”.

 

The next step was to find a court painter whose art was strongly connected with the paintings of Vyssi Brod and the miniatures of Machaut’s Complete Work. Soon there could be given a name to this artist. He has several names, mainly Jean (de) Bondol or Hennequin de Bruges.

 

Now the author had to find out, what is known about this artist, recompose his Oeuvre and rewrite his biography by integrating the time he had spent in Bohemia before becoming “pictor regis” in France.