Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October - Très Riches Heures

The month of October shows the Louvre Palace as it looked in the 15th century when home to Charles V. The Palais du Louvre was originally a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip ll. Remnants of the original fortress are still visible in the basement of the Louvre Museum today.
The blue tympanum shows the Libra zodiac signs for October, the scales in the first part of the month and Scorpio on the cusp. In the centre the chariot of the sun making it's yearly cycle through the heavens.
Autumn preparations are underway with a peasant on horseback tilling the ground. Note the stone on the harrow helping the teeth to penetrate deeper into the soil. He is followed by a further peasant sowing seeds in the furrows. The magpies and crows are enjoying the seeds as they are sown. The field beyond has already been sown and shows a scarecrow in the form of an archer. Looking carefully you can see some threads crossing the field which are hung with feathers to further deter the birds. Beyond is the River Seine, busy with people walking along the towpath, boatmen hailing business, and women washing clothes.
This month I thought that it might be interesting to learn a little more about the three brothers who painted the manuscript for their patron the Duc de Berry.
The Limburg brothers: Paul, Herman and Jean were born in Nimwegen in the Duchy of Guelders (present day Netherlands) and referred to as 'alemant' (German). The brothers were raised in an artistic family and began working in the arts at a young age. Paul was in the duke's employ by 1408, and his brothers no later than 1410; they all enjoyed a friendly relationship with their patron. After completing another manuscript the Belles Heures in 1412, they were chosen by the duke to paint the Très Riches Heures in 1413. 
They laboured on the manuscript for two years, then all of them died during 1416. It is thought most likely that they caught the plague. The duke also died in that same year and Charles l, Duc de Savoie became the second patron of the work.
The month of November can be found here.

51 comments:

  1. I have been looking forward to another of the Heures, Rosemary. What fun to see Paris in the long ago, and curious to think of peasants tilling the fields just across the river from the Louvre. As always, it shows us little incidents from daily life; the magpies and crows amuse me, as some things never change. We were looking at all the crows and magpies gathering around the neighbourhood and our garden just a short time ago.

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    1. Dear Patricia - the manuscripts are such a rich source of information for giving us tiny glimpses into both daily and seasonal life during the 15th century.
      I am gradually working my way through the year - this one is the 7th month that I have done.

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  2. Great! Reading your interesting post while I listen to Tom Jones, What else can I ask?

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    1. I can picture you now Marina - thank you.

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  3. The October is the month of sowing and the first rains. Your photo depicts the works of the month. For us this month, is important because we celebrate two liberation anniversaries of the country (1912 and 1940) and 26 month celebrates our city. Is the celebrate of St. Demetrios!
    Happy October !

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    1. Congratulations to you all in Greece this October Olympia when you celebrate two liberation anniversaries.

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  4. Even though in France. The scenes of the men sewing seeds and the ploughing are so similar to how its done here today. Some farmers can't afford tractors so use the mule or donkey.. put sewing the seeds is still done in the same way.
    The three brothers had great insight on how they would execute their art of Heures.
    Their story is so interesting.
    I went to september .. gosh the castle is still the same. The fields outside still the same soil that the peasants worked. A wonderful castle indeed.
    Our rain came at the right time. The fields around have been seeded and this rain will bring forth life to the seeds.
    Fascinating post Rosemary. Thank you .. waiting now for more.
    Happy 1st of October. val

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    1. Thank goodness the rain has arrived in time for the fields that have been seeded around you Val. It is surprising just how quickly things perk up following a heavy downpour.
      Each month the manuscripts of Très Riches Heures give us a fascinating insight into life in the 15th century.

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  5. What a tragic end to such talented artist brothers. Their art is some of my favourite ever and I love your description of it and the pointing out of those little details that might otherwise be missed. I shall enjoy reading more of your blog. Thanks for commenting on mine. Axxx

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    1. Welcome Annie - and thank you for your kind comment. I started recording Très Riches Heures at the end of March so I am now over half way through - at times I wondered whether I would be able to keep the momentum going but now I can see that the end is in sight. Commenters do seem to have enjoyed seeing them.

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  6. Pozostałości twierdzy w Luwrze widziałam, ale nie wiedziałam, że twierdza była taka imponująca. Przykro, że bracia zmarli, a mogli jeszcze tyle zrobić. Pozdrawiam.
    The remains of the fortress of the Louvre I saw, but I did not know that the fortress was so impressive. I'm sorry that the brothers died, and they have so much to do. Yours.

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    1. Szanowny Giga - Aby zobaczyć Luwr, jak to było 500 lat temu, jest tak cennym źródłem dla nas, aby nas dostępne dziś uprzejmości Très Riches Heures bogactwa.
      Dear Giga - To see the Louvre as it was 500 years ago is such a valuable resource for us to have available to us today courtesy Très Riches Heures.

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  7. It has been so interesting following the manuscript through your posts. The detail in them is fantastic, even down to the footprints left in the soil by the peasant sowing seed.

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    1. Dear Jessica - I wish that I could make the images bigger, the details are so fine - well spotted for seeing the footprints.

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  8. Just love these manuscripts Rosemary. The Limburg brothers certainly give us a fantastic view of everyday life in the early fifteenth century.
    Patricia x

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    1. Dear Patricia - each one that I come to, I think this is my favourite, but if fact they are all beautiful and very finely executed. The colours are also wonderful when you consider how old they are.

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  9. How beautiful - the richness of the colours, and then the back story - thank you.

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    1. This is the 7th month that I have shown so far, and each one has been a pleasure to re-acquaint myself with. I have really enjoyed all the activities going on in each manuscript.

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  10. I always think when you post this tres Riches Heures..how quickly times goes.
    A interesting story.
    Have a nice Day.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - I began showing them at the end March/April so I am now on the homeward trail. However, it surprising just how quickly the months have flown past. When I have posted one I have to make sure that the next one is organised so that I can keep abreast of them, as I am never sure what I might be doing at the end of the following month.

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  11. Seems strange reading about Autumn when it's Spring here :)
    Goodness their deaths were not good, poor things.

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    1. I am always surprised how the seasons seem to pass so quickly. You start showing spring flowers, and before we know where we are ours start popping up as you head off into the summer.

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    1. Thanks Suzy - glad that you enjoyed it.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,

    It's so interesting to see more and more information unfold each month, and to see the details of 15th century life. Wouldn't those folks be amazed with modern tractors that now have air conditioning, stereo systems and computers!

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    1. Dear Mark - I was also thinking how astonished the 15th century people would be if they knew that this manuscript image could be conveyed all around the world instantly, picked up on a computer, and looked at by so many people.

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  14. Hello Rosemary, The harrow in this scene reminds me of the threshing sledge you featured in another post--similar technology, different implement.

    Your posts on the Tres Riches Heures led me to do a little checking. It seems that the Duke starting commissioning these illuminated works after being impressed by his brother's ownership of the incredible Savoy hours commissioned by Blanche of Burgundy, which Jean eventually acquired.

    The Savoy hours were unfortunately mostly destroyed, but a section still exists and is owned by Yale University. The remaining leaves are intensely beautiful; one of my great memories is being allowed to hold and examine them at the Beinecke Library.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - I wondered if anyone would pick up on the threshing sledge that I showed earlier in the year - you have a very good memory.
      Any chance that you could do a post on the Savoy hours? I for one would be really interested to see and learn about them.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,

    It has been such a pleasure to catch up with your latest posts, especially the one of William Morris's home!

    Les Très Riches Heures greatly influenced me as a young adult. I saw the originals at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris a couple of decades ago and, I think, they instigated my decision to study for my Masters in Medieval Studies. History of Art is so often slighted as an inaccurate guide to social history but I find it so touching to see how many details are revealed by such wonderful works.

    Stephanie

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    1. Dear Stephanie - I am delighted that you enjoyed the WM post, it was a great pleasure for us to visit last week. I did visit many many years ago, but it has now improved out of all recognition.
      You will know more about Les Très Riches Heures than I do, mine is purely a lay persons interest. I wish that I could show the images in a larger size as the details are so fine - you really require a magnifying glass for them.
      You are so fortunate to have seen them, and what a great testimony that they influenced you in your choice of study.

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  16. It is fascinating to see how fields and countryside came right up to the Louvre in the Middle Ages. The French peasants seem to be wearing such brightly coloured clothes, I wonder if they did? Or I wonder if they were really wearing russets but the artists just loved the colours! I do enjoy following the cycle of the seasons through each month's illustration.

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    1. I don't know the answer Wendy, but can only surmise that perhaps a little bit of artistic license has taken place re: the colours. Red and blue cloth was very very expensive in the middle ages, and I would have thought it unlikely that it would have be worn by peasants.

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  17. So interesting to peek into life in Paris so long ago....and The Louvre was right there in the fields ! Not exactly the same today ! Thank you for these wonderful posts. xx

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    1. They are a very valuable record of life in France during the 15th century, but some things never change for example the birds swooping down to eat the grain.

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  18. Thank goodness we have such important manuscripts that document everyday life back then. So very fascinating, Rosemary! You've done a marvelous job interpreting it all.
    Loi

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    1. The details revealed in Les Très Riches Heures reveal many delightful small day to day experiences in early 15th century life, they are a wonderful record of the period.

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  19. PS - The blues are so beautiful and vivid!!

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    1. The ultramarine blue used is made from crushed Middle Eastern lapis-lazuli along with cobalt.

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  20. Such beautiful and detailed work.

    Nijmegen(or Nimwegen) is a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Gelderland, near the German border. It's not part of Flanders. Being Flemish, I just had to mention that ;) But maybe also Dutch (from the Netherlands) people reading your post may have said something about that already.

    Did you know this is one of the first miniatures to show shadows of people and animals, as is also the case in the March miniature? It is therefore thought that Bartholomy d'Eyck was responsible for the finishing touches of both these miniatures, as he was a master at painting shadows of people.
    The De Limbourg brothers have almost certainly painted the miniatures of the months of Jan, Feb, part of March, April, May, part of June, August and part of December. Based on the clothes of the people in the paintings, the months of March, June, July, September, Oktober and December had to be painted or at least finished around the middle of the 15th century, after the Limburg brothers had died. It is thought that Bartholomy d'Eyck may have been that 'in between'painter. Jean Colombe probably brought some finishing touches to the miniatures as well as he was given the assignment to finish the book by Charles I after the Duke de Berry died. Jean Colombe is thought to be responsible for all of the miniature (not the hemisphere) of the month of November. It's almost certain that all hemispheres above the miniatures are the work of the brothers Van Limburg(their name btw doesn't have anything to do with the provinces of Limburg in Belgium and the Netherlands we know nowadays, it comes from the town Limburg in Belgium(Wallonia) in the province of Luik(Liège), once the seat of the Duchy of Limburg in the Middle Ages).

    So much to tell about these miniatures and their painters. So good of you to start a series of it and share a bit every month. I learn a lot by it myself.

    Marian

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    1. Thanks Marian - I have now updated it to the Netherlands. I intend to talk about Bartholomy d'Eyck as the months come to their conclusion. I am just giving little snippets here as there is too much to take in all at one go.
      Next months image was done by Jean Colombe - it is quite different from the rest - I have already prepared it, but the lunettes were done by the Limbourg brothers.
      Thanks for your added research and help.

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    2. I talk about hemispheres, meaning the lunettes as you call them.Those were all done by the Van Limburg brothers indeed. November is really different, clearly another painter. Can't wait to read your November post.

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  21. I never knew that the Louvre looked like that in the 15th Century. Definitely looks better now. The blue there is so vibrant. Happy October!

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    1. The blue is very rich and still strong after 500 years. It was made from crushed lapis lazuli along with cobalt.

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  22. This month's depiction is one of my favourites, but there's always something new to notice, such as the scarecrow dressed as an archer and the unusually vivid colour of the peasants' tunics (unlike in real life), but which adds to the richness of the work.

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    1. It is all the details that are particularly appealing - the design in the peasants shoulder bags, the holes in one peasants leggings, and the sack containing the grain.

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  23. Such a wonderful picture with so much to find as you keep looking. It is so sad that all the brothers died in the same year but so great that they left something beautiful behind. I hope you are having a lovely week.

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    1. Their patron, the Duc du Berry also died in the same year as the three brothers - I presume that he also died of the plague.

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  24. For centuries farmers have planted fields along major rivers. In fact Civilizations prospered because rich and potent soil was the result of annual flooding. I love these manuscripts for they allow us a glimpse into an earlier and more simple way of life.
    Thank you Rosemary for another very interesting post.

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    1. Yes, you are right Gina - the river flood plains are a very rich source of valuable land for crop growing.
      It was a simple way of life, but I should imagine a tough and hard life especially for the peasants. There was also the ever present threat of illness which would often end in death - I don't think we necessarily realise how lucky we are today.

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  25. Such beautiful rich colour. Love to read the detail you explain about the painting. Thank you for making your posts so interesting as well as beautiful.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comment Betty.

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