Jacquemart de Hesdin
Biography of International Gothic Style Miniaturist Painter.

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The Annunciation (c. 1400)
Miniature painting from the
Petite Heures of the Duc de Berry
(French National Library, Paris)
One of several exquisite works of
Christian art by Jacquemart.

Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414)


Jacquemart de Hesdin's Painting
The Hours of Turin (c.1380-1425)
The Annunciation (c.1400)
The Brussels Hours (c.1400): Dedication Page
The Psalter: The Fool (c.1390)
Famous International Gothic Painters

Book Painting During the Middle Ages
(1) Medieval Manuscript Illumination (c.1000-1500)
(2) Romanesque Illuminated Manuscripts (c.1000-1150)
(3) Gothic Illuminated Manuscripts (c.1150-1350)

For top creative practitioners, see:
Best Artists of All Time.

Jacquemart de Hesdin's Painting

One of the leading Old Masters of the school of Flemish Painting, Jacquemart de Hesdin was famous for his International Gothic Illuminations and miniature painting. Along with other miniaturists such as Jean Pucelle (c.1290-1334), Andre Beauneveu (1335-1400), and the Limbourg brothers (all died 1416), he upheld the courtly tradition of small-scale illustration, whose decline was signalled by the panel paintings of Melchior Broederlam (c.1350-1411). Famous surviving paintings by Jacquemart de Hesdin (mainly from medieval devotional prayer books, known as "Hours") include: The Annunciation, from the Petite Heures of the Duc de Berry (1400, French National Library, Paris); The Fool, from the Duc de Berry's Psalter (c.1390, French National Library, Paris); the Brussels Hours (Belgian National Library, Brussels) and the Hours of the Marechal de Boucicaut (Jacquemart-Andre Museum, Paris). In addition the Louvre Museum in Paris has a small vellum-on-canvas painting by Jacquemart, called The Carrying of the Cross (1409). In addition, he may have been one of the artists who first started the illuminated manuscript that became the Hours of Turin (c.1380-1425). Jacquemart's style of work was influenced by the French painting of Pucelle, as well as by Sienese proto-Renaissance art in Italy.




Born in Hesdin, Artois, a fortified town in the Calais region, then part of Flanders ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy, Jacquemart was one of the many Flemish painters who worked for various members of the French royal family during the fourteenth century. Jacquemart himself was court painter to John, Duke of Berry (1340–1416), a younger brother of the French King Charles V (1338-80). On the death of Charles V, since his son Charles VI was a minor, Berry and his brothers Louis I of Anjou (1339–1384) and Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1342–1404), ruled France as regents until 1388, and again from 1392 to 1402. One of the great art collectors of the Middle Ages, Berry spent huge sums on decorative art of all kinds, including illustrated manuscripts and thus made a decisive contribution to the resurgence of painting at this time.

Drawn south to the court of John, Duke of Berry, at Bourges, documents show that he was in service to the Duke from 1384 until 1409. During this period, he made a significant contribution to a number of illuminated manuscripts commissioned by the Duke. These included: the Tres Belles Heures du Duc de Berry (better known as the Brussels Hours) (c.1400-2, Belgian National Library, Brussels); the Petites Heures (1388-1400, French National Library, Paris); the Grandes Heures (c.1395, French National Library, Paris); and the Duc de Berry's Psalter (c.1390, French National Library, Paris). Most of these works involved a number of painters, including Jacquemart, the Limbourg brothers, a painter known as the Boucicaut Master (possibly Jacques Coene), an artist known as the Pseudo-Jacquemart, and others. Jacquemart himself was noted for his refined International Gothic style, characterized by a firm grasp of perspective, exquisite use of colour pigments, and a style of decorative marginalia marked by images of animals and foliage.

Jacquemart de Hesdin disappeared from Burgundian court circles in 1409 and his place as court painter was taken by the Limbourg brothers - Pol, Jean and Herman. They would go on to create their unique masterpiece the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (Musee Conde, Chantilly), one of the finest works of the International Gothic period. French court art later experienced a revival under King Louis XI (1461-83), as exemplified by the illuminated religious manuscript Le Livre du coeur d'Amours Espris (1465, Austrian National Library, Vienna).

The Hours of Turin (c.1380-1425)

This incomplete but high quality illuminated manuscript, commissioned about 1370-80, contains miniatures by the Master of the Narbonne Parement, Jacquemart de Hesdin and others from the Duke of Berry's court at Bourges, as well as later illustrations by Jan van Eyck (1390-1441), his brother Hubert van Eyck (d.1426), or their close followers. By about 1413, the book was in the custody of the Duke's treasurer, Robinet d'Estampes, who divided it. In 1904, the section known as the Turin Hours was destroyed in a fire.

The Annunciation (c.1400)

This illumination on parchment is from the Petite Heures of the Duc de Berry, the smallest and least well known of the illuminated texts produced for the Duke. The margin of this page is decorated with figures painted by the artist known as the Master of the Passion, while the more refined central image of the Annunciation is painted by Jacquemart de Hesdin. The representation of space in this composition shows a thorough knowledge of the problems of linear perspective, while the softly curving figures as well as the exquisite colour palette are modelled on the Sienese School of Painting (c.1250-1550). In addition, unlike the more idealized style of Jean Pucelle, Jacquemart demonstrates a preference for naturalism - a tendency later perfected by the Netherlandish School.

The Brussels Hours (c.1400): Dedication Page

This illustrated dedication page comes from the book entitled the Tres-Belles Heures de Duc de Berry, better known as the Brussels Hours. The book is marked by borders containing lavish frames of quatrefoils, decorated with the armorials and heraldic devices of Berry as well as the traditional plant-like patterns. The dedication page, which introduced the book, portrays the Duke, accompanied by Saints Andrew and John the Baptist, being presented to an enthroned Madonna and Child.

The Psalter: The Fool (c.1390)

This fascinating miniature is from the Duc de Berry's Psalter, and illustrates Psalm 53,5. Possibly based on illuminations painted by Pucelle for the Breviary of Jeanne d'Evreux, this image depicts a Fool standing in a green field flanked by two trees, against a red background. His semi-nude figure, draped with a white cloth, is twisted in the shape of an 'S'. He holds a court jester's bladder in his right hand, while in his left hand he raises a piece of bread to his mouth. An unusual sense of calm emanates from his person.

Miniature paintings by the Flemish artist Jacquemart de Hesdin, and his pupils, can be seen in some of the best art museums around the world.

Famous International Gothic Painters

In addition to those listed above, here is a short list of the leading painters working in the the International Gothic idiom.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Active 1319-48)
Italian Gothic artist, member of Sienese School of painting.
Pietro Lorenzetti (active 1320-45)
Siena School artist influenced by Florentine art.
Lorenzo Monaco (1370-1425)
Siena-born painter.
Gentile da Fabriano (c.1370-1427)
Italian artist from the Marches.
Pisanello (c.1394-1455)
Pisa-born Italian painter.
Enguerrand de Quarton (Charenton) (c.1410-1466)
French painter/illuminator famous for The Avignon Pieta (c.1455, Louvre).


• For more about miniature book painting, see: Homepage.
• For analysis of important illuminated manuscripts, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed.

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