great painter of Valois France, in the last decades of the 15th century,
who used to be known as the Master of Moulins because of the spectacular
Triptych, in the Cathedral of Moulins, and who was only recently
identified as Jean Hey (or Hay). The Nativity
of Cardinal Jean Rolin at Autun by the same painter bears an
inscription on the back of the altarpiece which documents the painter as
Jean Hey; he is described as an outstanding German, no doubt with reference
to his Netherlandish origin. Charles II of Bourbon, Cardinal
Archbishop of Lyon, Meeting at the Golden
Gate and Portrait of Francis de Chateaubriand
Presented by St. Maurice are also attributed to him. The Moulin
Triptych and The Nativity of Rolin are close to the
style of Hugo van der Goes, and some
art historians believe that Jean Hay could be a pupil of the famous Dutchman.
The central section of the Moulin altarpiece bears The Virgin in Glory, Surrounded by Angels. The wings of the altarpiece show the portraits of Hay's patrons, Duke Peter II of Bourbon, who reigned in Moulin, and his Valois wife Anna introduced by their eponymous saints. This indicates that the painter worked in court circles, and from about 1483 in the province of Bourbonnais.
The Louvre panels, e.g. Portrait presumed to be of Madeleine of Burgundy Presented by St. Madeleine, showing equivalent portrait presentations, or fragments of them, plainly come from a similar complex, also by Jean Hay.
Cardinal Jean Rolin, son of the Chancellor painted by Jan van Eyck, commissioned the Nativity in 1480 for the cathedral in his hometown. While the painting reveals an evident knowledge of Netherlandish art, it is also characterized by certain features belonging specifically to French Early Renaissance.