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Life of JEAN BOURDICHON


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  French painter and illuminator. He worked in Tours towards the end of the 15th century and was an official painter to Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I. Despite the absence of Bourdichon s name from contemporary historical writings, he enjoyed the highest reputation in his own day. This is clear not only from the rank of those who commissioned work from him and from the sumptuous quality of his surviving works but also from the sheer quantity of works he produced, which implies that he had assistants to help him keep up with demand.
  Having already worked for Louis XI for two years, Bourdichon succeeded Jean Fouquet as Peintre du Roi in 1481. He was in favour at court and well regarded by Charles VIII, who had a workshop set up for him in the castle at Plessis-lès-Tours and provided generous dowries for his daughters; the painter enjoyed a long official career and lived in considerable comfort as a landowner. Bourdichon received a regular wage as painter and valet de chambre in ordinary and was mentioned in the royal accounts, mainly with reference to the numerous functional decorations and temporary creations for which he was responsible. His name also appears in connection with designs for coins, stained-glass windows and silver or gold plate. He received a considerable number of commissions for paintings on wood, particularly of the Virgin in glory, and for various portraits. Only one of Bourdichon s panel paintings is known to survive, but far more of his work as an illuminator is extant.
  As his success brought him both imitators and subcontractors, it seems appropriate to reduce his corpus to those manuscripts that are most similar to his only documented work, the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany. His activities as an illuminator are otherwise poorly documented; the only works mentioned are the Papaliste (1480) for Louis XI, four histories (1483) for Queen Charlotte of Savoy, a miniature (c. 1485) for Charles of Angoulème and several histories (1492) for Queen Anne of Brittany.
  
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