In his recently published History of Beauty (New
York, NY: Rizzoli; 2004) Umberto Eco wryly observes that for all their being
considered dark, the Middle Ages sparkled with color. Medieval miniatures,
for example, vibrate with every color of the spectrum, each as pure as when
it left the sun. And the farther north one went, it seemed, the brighter and
more vivid the colors became until, when one reached the Low Countries, the
miniaturist's palette made a liar of the gloomy Flemish skies. One of
these miniaturists was the Master of the Dresden Prayer Book (fl c 1465-1515),
so-called because while he (or perhaps she) remains anonymous, the body of
work is distinctive and consistent enough, in content and in overall quality,
to have been produced by the same hand. These “Masters” are known,
thus, not by the names their family or friends called them, but by their works.
It is not impossible that scholarship may one day discover that some identities
have been conflated and that two (or more) Masters are actually one and the
Southgate MT. Master of the Dresden Prayer Book. JAMA. 2005;293(5):529. doi:10.1001/jama.293.5.529
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