Publication: Scientia Artis 13 on Guillebert de Mets

The thirteenth volume in our Scientia Artis series is now available! In 'A l’Escu de France'. Guillebert de Mets et la peinture de livres à Gand à l’époque de Jan van Eyck (1410-1450) (In 'The Arms of France'. Guillebert de Mets and Book Painting in Ghent at the Time of Jan Van Eyck (1410-1450)) authors Dominique Vanwijnsberghe (KIK-IRPA) and independent researcher Erik Verroken recontextualize the figure and the works of the scribe Guillebert de Mets, active in the first half of the 15th century.

In the early years of the 15th century, Guillebert de Mets, a young and gifted scribe from Grammont (Geraardsbergen) moved to Paris. Here he came in contact with the vibrant and creative circles of the French scholars, writers, and book makers, such as the famous Christine de Pizan. He was connected to the court of John the Fearless and after the duke was murdered in 1419, he was forced to return to Grammont where he became a prominent citizen. He also kept a large inn with the suggestive name Escu de France (The Arms of France) where he started his own book business.

An outstanding calligrapher, Guillebert de Mets subcontracted the decoration and illustration of his manuscripts to a group of elusive illuminators whom, in spite of the quality and the originality of their work, had not been identified yet. They were nonetheless very much in demand at the court of Burgundy and were hired to work on seminal works of the ducal library, one of the most prestigious book collections of its time.

Who were these “Masters of Guillebert de Mets”? Where did they work and for whom? Based on an extensive body of archival documents, many of them unpublished, this book addresses these fundamental issues. It also draws on an in-depth study of the oeuvre of these illuminators – sixty-four manuscripts and fragments gathered here for the first time. This raises the fascinating question of possible interactions between Paris, the major artistic centre of Western Europe around 1400, and illuminators active in the Southern Low Countries at the time of the first generation of Flemish Primitives.

Both Guillebert de Mets and his illuminators were important points of contact between these two centres of excellence. They illustrate the key role played by Paris in the shaping of the Flemish ars nova, during the glorious heyday of the Burgundian court.

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