Tuesday, 30 April 2013

May - Très Riches Heures

In April I began showing the monthly illustrations from Très Riches Heures - welcome to May.
A May jaunt, a pageant celebrating the "joli mois de Mai" in which many are wearing green garments known as livrée de mai, they have green foliage in their hair, wreathed around their necks and decorating their horses. The riders are young noblemen and women - princes and princesses. In the background is Hôtel de Neslè the Duc de Berry's residence in Paris. 
The zodiac symbols in the blue tympanum show Taurus - the bull and Gemini - the twins. As with all of the calendar illustrations in the centre of the tympanum the chariot of the sun makes it yearly cycle through the heavens.
The "Golden Age" of the book of hours in Europe happened around 1350 - 1480; the book of hours became popular in France around 1400 and many major French artists undertook manuscript illumination. John Duc of Berry, the French prince for whom the Très Riches Heures was made was the third son of the future king of France, John the Good. The young prince lived an extravagant life, and commissioned many works of art which he amassed in his Saint Chapelle mansion. Upon his death in 1416 an inventory was done on his estate describing the incomplete and unbound collection of the Très Riches Heures.
See June illustration here.

38 comments:

  1. Dear Rosemary, I'm so glad that "the Prince lived an extravagant life" and so many more have done the same. Where would we be without the treasures they have commissioned. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - that is so true - many of the things that we enjoy so much about the past are architecture, paintings, sculpture and other works of art.

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  2. I learn so much from your posts! Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - thank you - glad that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  3. A lovely illustration Rosemary, I particularly like the tree trunks in the distance.
    Celebrating the arrival of May sounds like my kind of party. I'm decked out in all my finery, wreath an' all just got to find me a horse and I'm set:)

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    1. Next month you will have a view over the top of those tree trunks, but they are rather fun.
      I can see you now Paul all decked out in your finery with your wreath of May flowers.

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  4. Hi Rosemary, I don't think I ever saw the previous installment of this. I do have a printed edition of these Heures, but it will be a lot of fun to concentrating on and discussing individual pages. What I notice here is all the crowded, tall people topped by their heads and headdresses; above that the close trees topped by their green crowns; and another lever higher, the dense buildings with their towering roofs, steeples, and finials. Perhaps that was an allegory for the three layers of the world as considered then.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - several bloggers have been having problems with published posts not showing on followers reading list and sidebars. I have only had it happen three times and that April post was one of them. One person that I follow has had all of her posts for the past couple of months not showing which is really upsetting and frustrating for her.
      That is an interesting observation Jim re: the three layers. I know that there is an illustration of the world from Divinorum Operum by Hildegard of Bingen which shows a spherical earth surround by three layers - the earth, the sea, the sky and it then has the seasons in the middle.

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    2. Hi again, It was probably just a blip of some kind, but earlier today there was a notice of a post from you called 'Honesty', which could not be called up, but then the Tres riches post worked. My guess is that the truth was just too much for them. --Jim

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    3. That was my fault Jim - I can't blame blogger, but your comment has given me a laugh. I am a bit too hasty sometimes, I do things quickly on the computer, and I pressed publish instead of preview - I had to withdraw it as I had not finished preparing it.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, this is so beautiful, and I have loved the Heures since being introduced to it at university. I am captivated by the delicate green of the gowns and horse trappings, which I think is brought out by the cobalt blue, although you would think the blue would dominate. Not for me though, that pretty green joyously proclaims May!

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    1. Hello Patricia - I enjoy the colours too and all of the fine details - the two little dogs following the gathering with one crouching down, the men playing their wind instruments, and the bush of may blossom. I also like the way one month we see the Hôtel de Neslè behind the dense forest, and next month we shall see it much closer.

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  6. The colours are so vibrant especially the blues and greens. I like the semi circular zodiac/ astronomy symbols with the stars. Such a festive event. Truly a joyous celebration of Spring.

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    1. You are right the blues and greens just tipped with gold are vibrant and have lost non of their colour even though they were painted exactly 600 years ago.

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  7. What a gorgeous work - as others have said, the colours are incredibly clear and brilliant. I love to come over to your posts to learn something new.

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    1. The vibrancy and the way they capture the mood of the calendar months is charming - thank you for your kind comment.

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  8. Have a beautiful month of May dear Rosemary : )

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  9. maybe you like this may illustration (from an old post of mine ) http://demieblogg.blogspot.no/2011/05/mai.html

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    1. Thanks Demie - both illustrations are really interesting from an artist unknown to me. At first I thought the angel had woolly socks on but perhaps they are boots - we all need to keep our toes warm. I went on to your link and was interested to learn that Yannis Tsarouchis - Γιάννης Τσαρούχης filled his canvases with images of vulnerable men and to a lesser extent strong women - this angel does look in need of a cuddle.

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    2. I am glad you liked it. He is one of my favourite greek artists : )

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    3. I didn't realise the comment was from you at first Demie - your name has changed, and thank you for introducing him to me.

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  10. What a beautiful work of art! I like going on excursion in May and I think the color of May is various different shades of fresh green.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I am happy that you liked the art work, it is incredible to think that it is 600 years old it looks so clean and vibrant.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,
    I have caught up with your April post so now I am all set for June.
    I do like the colour of the ladies' gowns in May and I like the dogs playing in the foreground.
    A Happy May Day to you!
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - I think that I have set myself a bit of a task - better crack on with June!!!
      The month of May looks the way I am now feeling with the sun shinning and the flowers and trees blooming.
      Hope you and AGA enjoy this first day of May.

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  12. Beautiful. I love the way the horses are adorned in matching colors.

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    1. All of the detail is so finely executed and enhanced by the touches of gold.

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  13. The Tres Riches Heures are, I think, uniquely beautiful in their illustrations. thanks, Rosemary.

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    1. I like the way they portray historical events of the period, and also show buildings that are still visible in France today.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,

    The vibrancy of this image is so striking, and it reminds me that the pigments were doubtlessly made in part with crushed gems. And that in turn makes me wonder that the artists of that time were also chemists of sorts. No wonder they were forming guilds!

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    1. Dear Mark - I intend to touch on the pigments and the vellum used during the course of the coming months. Of course some of the pigments were very dangerous to their health although they were unaware of it at the time.

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  15. If you think about the history of these type of paintings or drawings, you can find so much information.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I hope to write about different aspects of their history during the next few months, but you are right to mention it.

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  16. Such vivid beautiful robes and dresses. The green ,the different hues of blue.
    I feel there is something in the three scenes.. something being told by the artist.. I keep looking and wondering.!
    The tres Riches Heures.. fascinating Rosemary.
    looking forward to June.
    Happy 1st of May ..
    val

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    1. Dear Val - I did give a bit more background information to the Tres Riches Heures in the April post, I do not know whether you saw it - you can get to it from this post at the bottom. This month is mainly about courtly life as it was in France during the 15th century - depicting the French aristocracy enjoying "joli mois de Mai".
      Hope you had a lovely day, we get our May holiday on Monday.

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  17. The illustrations in Books of Hours are so interesting with so much detail to enjoy. The Tre Riches Heures du Duc de Berry illustration for May is lovely. I hope you're in holiday mood, Rosemary!

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    1. Its the little details that I like too as well as the overall look which is so pleasing.

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