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Het Toren van Babel-schilderij in het Mauritshuis. Een illustratie van de relatie tussen de 15 de-eeuwse miniatuur- en schilderkunst in de Nederlanden

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

In the Mauritshuis at Thc Hague is the earliest extant painting on the theme of the Tower of Babel (fig. I). The panel's smal size (19.7 × 17 cm) and the min ute detail of the narrative scene suggest a relationship with the art of the miniaturc. This connection, which is demonstrable in other early representations of the theme (figs. 2-3), is confirmed by numerous motivic similarities with a number of miniatures (figs.4 6) in Les anciennes croniques et conquestes de Charlemaine, a manuscript which was illuminated by Jan de Tavernier between 1458 and c. 1465 and shortly afterwards showed up in the library of Philip, Duke of Burgundy. It is now in the Albert I Royal Library in Brussels. The anonymous painter of the panel was probably not in a position to base his work directly on the actual miniatures, but he may well have made use of sketches which served for the illumination of manuscripts in De Tavernier's studio. However, it cannot be ruled out that a Tower of Babel was painted in that studio. Neither the obvious relationship with De Tavernier's oeuvre nor corresponding motifs in paintings from the Bruges (fig. 8) and Haarlem (fig. 9) environments yield a logical hypothesis for an attribution of the panel in The Hague. The article does however draw attention, to the important but hitherto insufficiently examined relationship between 15th-century painting and the contemporary miniature (and other art techniques).


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