The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is one of the most sumptuous and beautiful of illuminated manuscripts, and is seen as the classic examplar of a mediaeval book of hours, a book, that is, modelled on a breviary, a standard compilation of liturgical texts. Other, supplementary material, such as calendars, additional prayers or psalms and masses were also often included in these volumes. The pictures below are the full-page miniatures that comprise the calendar section of the Très Riches Heures, which are considered to be a highlight of the manuscript, and a ‘pinnacle of the art of manuscript illumination’ in general.
It is thought that the miniatures were, with one exception, painted by Paul Limbourg, and his brothers Hermann and Jean. The three originated from the Flemish town of Nimwegen, and, by 1410, had entered into the sevice of Jean, Duc de Berry. They began work on the Très Riches Heures in 1413, but did not live to see its completion. It seems likely that, by 1416, they, like their patron, were all dead. The manuscript was not completed until the 1480s. Of the present images, only that for November belongs to this later period, and is thought to be largely the work of one Jean Colombe.
The Limbourgs used a wide variety of colours obtained from minerals, plants or chemicals and mixed with either arabic or tragacinth gum to provide a binder for the paint. Amongst the more unusual colours they used were vert de flambe, a green obtained from crushed flowers mixed with massicot, and azur d’outreme, an ultramarine made from crushed Middle Eastern lapis-lazuli, used to paint the brilliant blues.
It is this breathtaking ultramarine which initially catches ones eye, even in a reduced reproduction: how brightly these colours must shine from the original pages.
These images (and their captions) I lifted from this site. Clicking on the thumbnails will open full-sized pop-up images. The same pictures can also be found here. There is also a complete on-line version of the entire manuscript.
The Très Riches Heures is currently housed at the Musée Condé, in Chantilly.Posted by misteraitch at March 12, 2003 12:27 PM | TrackBack