Tuesday, 2 July 2013

July - Très Riches Heures


This month I thought that it would be interesting to consider how the illustrations of Très Riches Heures would have been painted. The artists ground the minerals or plants used on a slab of marble moistened with water and thickened with either gum Arabic or tragacanth gum to ensure it would stick to the vellum. The colours in the illustrations include white, black, pink, violet, three shades of red and two shades each of blue, green, and yellow. The detailed work would have required the Limbourg brothers to use extremely fine brushes and most likely the use of a magnifying lens. Next month I will describe which minerals and plants were used for the colours in the manuscript.
We know that the manuscript was customised for it's patron, the Duc de Berry and therefore the illustrations depict his own properties i.e. his fields, castles, and servants.
In July the summer harvest is underway. As the corn or wheat is scythed we can see flowers, probably poppies, growing in it. The château de Poitiers is shown in the background, which no longer exists - the Duc de Berry was also known as the Count of Poitiers. A man and woman are shearing the sheep then rolling the skins into bundles. The château is moated with a wooden bridge connecting it to the surrounding land, but it has a drawbridge to keep it secure. The details of the bull rushes and willow trees growing along the waterside are finely detailed.
The blue tympanum at the top shows once again the chariot of the sun making it's yearly cycle through the heavens, the July zodiac signs of Cancer the crab and Leo the lion.
Très Riches Heures for August can be found here.                  

21 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, It is very interesting to consider the instruments used by artists of older times. A lot of Egyptian tools--palettes, reed brushed, bronze chisels, etc., have been recovered, and of course many Chinese "scholars' objects".

    The one conclusion that keeps coming up is that the best and most detailed work was often accomplished with the simplest implements.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - you are right - they do say that a poor workman blames his tools - but the simplest of implements in the hands of those that are skilled proves this to be wrong.

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  2. How beautiful. Have you read The Morville Hours? I loved it - a book of hours for the garden.

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    1. Thank you for another reading tip - I am in the middle of reading your other recommendation - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I am really enjoying it as he passes right through the area where I live on his journey.

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  3. Another beautiful instalment of the Heures, Rosemary. I can never see too much of that gorgeous blue, which reminds of the Notre Dame Cathedrals. The blue-robed figure in the foreground appears to be floating, in the most charming way, and rather like the Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 19th century. Lovely!!

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    1. Your are right Patricia - William Morris and the brotherhood not only admired the Renaissance painters, but were also medievalists - I wonder if they observed Très Riches Heures?

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  4. Blogger not complying, never.....hahaha!
    Seriously though, the illustration is wonderful, such detail and lovely vivid blues. Suzy x

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    1. Dear Suzy - we are very quick to blame blogger, but I am sure that I most likely did not press "done" in order to complete the schedule - the colours and details in Très Riches Heures are beautiful.

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  5. This is fascinating, Rosemary. The illustrations of the Duc de Berry's manuscript are beautiful, so it's interesting to read how they were created. Thank you for the link about Bee Guardians on your last post, too - I'm going to explore the initiatives on the website further.

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    1. I love the illuminated manuscripts Wendy - the details and colours are exquisite.
      Glad you found the link of interest - I am in the process of having a bee skep made by a local craftsman for my garden.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    I like Jim's comment because I have often thought along the same line. I see houses being built today with amazing tools, and yet the craftsmanship is lacking. Conversely, I look at the cathedrals that were built hundreds of years ago with cruder tools, and they are to perfection. Perhaps we need a resurgence of guilds.

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    1. Dear Mark - we have just been wandering amongst a dense collection of megalithic sites and marvelling at how on earth they moved, manipulated and lifted such enormous boulders 5000 years ago.

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  7. Looks good, I only had a problems once with scheduling but that was my mistake.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I am sure that the mistake was mine - I did it rather hastily as we were going away.

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  8. How beautiful - thank you for sharing this Rosemary.
    Hey, see we are reading the same book - just started it and am already engrossed as it begins near my Devon home - I should have plenty of plane reading time tomorrow as I'm off to California - see you later!
    Hugs - Mary

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  9. As ever Rosemary I absolutely adore the Tres Riches Heures and the colours are splendid. As you know I touched upon the beautiful illustrated manuscript on my recent studies and still have a passion for it. I love the way the star signs are illustrated in them. July is my birthday month and I particularly love this one. Thank you.
    Patricia x

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  10. These illuminations are so glorious. Thanks for the interesting technical background, Rosemary. I look forward to learning more.

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  11. Wonderful painting - and thank you for pointing me in the direction of an interesting novel!

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  12. how beautiful and interesting, I always learn new things on your blog! thanks a lot dear Rosemary:-)

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