Friday, 1 November 2013

November Très Riches Heures

There is a definite change of style in the manuscripts for the months of November and also December - both of which were done by different painters. The Limbourg brothers did the top tympanum showing the star signs of Scorpio on the left and Sagittarius on the cusp with the chariot of the sun making it's way through the heavens in the centre. However, the main image for November was carried out by 14th century painter, Jean Colombe, probably due to the deaths of the Limbourg brothers. I have mentioned previously that they all died in the same year - it is thought from the plague. Colombe's work is considered to have been carried out in a rather less delicate way, but it is an image that I like. The manuscript shows the autumn acorn harvest being devoured by pigs with a rather amusing looking peasant striking a dramatic pose whilst throwing sticks to dislodge acorns from the trees. It is possible to see an idyllic valley and lake view beyond the forest and a couple more peasants watching their pigs foraging around. The stylised trees remind me of naturalistic work seen in the 'Art Nouveau' and 'Art Deco' periods. The pigs are characterful, very fat, lots of meat on their hind quarters, and the dog is striking a pose which implies  'I am in charge'. Unlike the images done by the Limbourgs this landscape has no provenance.
Month of December can be seen here.

40 comments:

  1. The differences are very distinct between the Limbourg Brothers and the wonderful depiction of "whaking" the trees for the acorns to fall by Colombe. As soon as I saw the second painting. I thought, "this is not the same painter".. It was the peasants face that struck me. Determined his pigs will be the best fed around.
    It might come as a surprise or not...but up in the hills.. the shepherds still do this. They also gather up the acorns to put on the fire to eat.. so the shepherds and the pigs feed at the same time.
    Some old customs never die.
    A super post Rosemary. I always enjoy learning more about these times and the way you write about them.
    val x

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    1. Thank you Val for your really kind comment.
      Apparently the pork from pigs which are predominately fed on acorns adds a richer flavour to the meat, and it is also much more healthy for us than from pigs fed in other ways. It is interesting that they knew this back then, and that now modern day farmers, particularly organic ones, are using the same methods.
      I did not know that humans could eat acorns, but have just looked at a website about them. Apparently once you have removed the tannic acid from them they are a good source food for making flour, butter which is similar to peanut butter, and acorn oil. I should suspect that the shepherds are not affected by the tannic acid as they have been doing it all of their lives.
      Glad you enjoyed it Val, four more illustrations to go to complete the 12 months.

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  2. This image stands out when compared to all the other images doesn't it.I have to be honest, I like this one the least but it does show a medieval custom(pigs from the farmers being allowed to go into the forest and eat acorns and nuts that come from the trees) and is therefore very interesting.I think by 'provenance' you must mean there is no historical site present in this painting?
    I read the scenery in the background could be from the Savoye as Karel I van Savoye had the manuscript in his possession when this painting was made.
    I do wonder what you will have to tell about december, it is, as you already mentioned, also different from the other months.
    Marian

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    1. That is interesting that the background could be Savoye - thank you for that added information.Yes, you are right when I said the landscape had no provenance - the Limbourg brothers would always show property and land belonging to the Duc de Berry, their patron, from his various châteaux around the country.
      Of course when Jean Colombe painted the above illustration both the duke and all the three brothers were long dead.

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  3. Very nice second part of the painting.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  4. Having a soft spot for pigs, I cannot help but like the image. But yes, perhaps less detail than some of the previous months.

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    1. I like pigs too - especially when they are new born.

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  5. I agree not so much clarity in this picture but lovely all the same. I love the fact that these visual portrayals of medieval life tell us so much about the lives of both the peasants and nobility at the same time.
    Patricia x

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    1. Dear Patricia - that is the very thing that I like so much about them too. They are a visual history from the 14th century about everyday life throughout the year - what a priceless record they are.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    I find this month interesting in that, though the Limbourg Brothers were deceased, the headers for all the months were finished. That would indicate that the headers were all done in one block of time, and perhaps in an almost production-line fashion, which makes perfect sense. I know from my own experience that it's sometimes difficult to match a color one month or 11 months later!

    I think the painting is charming, and I especially like the highlights on the trees.

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    1. Dear Mark - yes, the headers must all have been completed first, and as you mention from your own experience in order to have the colours matching, it makes sense.
      Next months illustration is also by a completely different artist. These two artists are both said to have finished off small details on some of the Limbourg illustrations that were not fully finished.

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    2. To finish someone else's life work must bring one of the more intense senses of mortality.

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    3. I suspect even more so, as the Limbourg brothers were all in their early 20s.

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  7. Such lovely painting. Beautiful colors. I like those pigs! Happy weekend, Rosemary!

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    1. The pigs are fun aren't they Satu.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, The stylistic difference is immediately obvious. I find the castle in the painting an interesting detail, suggesting the aristocratic patronage who will get first choice of this meat.

    By the way, some acorns, such as those from white oaks, are much sweeter than others, and require little processing to remove excess tannic acid. The naturalist Euell Gibbons tells how to prepare them, and even gives a recipe for acorns glacés, patterned after marrons glacés.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I had no idea that acorns could be eaten before looking on google today. I do seem remember something about acorns being ground and used as coffee when it was in short supply during WW2.

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  9. Another fascinating month, Rosemary, with so much to look at again. I've always liked the idea of a chariot of the sun making its way through the skies - a lovely image! I think it's interesting that the castle is less prominent this time. And poor pigs, I have a soft spot for them too, but November was traditionally never a good month for them.

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    1. Dear Wendy - I bet that the pork from these pigs was very tasty.
      The chariot of the sun making its way forever through the sky is a lovely sentiment - good job it does too.

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  10. I like the painting with the pigs....they are really fat.
    And again a new month is beginning....it is going verry fast.
    Have a nice Weekend Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - I agree, there is something very appealing about pigs.

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  11. Such a lovely painting of the pigs and the peasant and the dog who looks very indifferent.
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Dear Janneke - the pigs, the pheasant, and the dog in this illustration convey a sense of who they are very well.
      Hope you have a good weekend too. We are just off out for supper so no cooking tonight for me.

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  12. Two very different paintings , but both interesting in their own way. Here I had to smile looking at the menacing pigs and the stern looking dog while the peasant strikes a pose ...wonderful :-))

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    1. The peasant to me looks as if he is about to burst into song - they are lovely characterisations of a peasant, his dog, and his pigs.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,
    thank you for presenting and explaining this beautiful work of art. The very first thing that always fascinates me when looking at the Très Riches Heures is that divine blue - so impressing, so beautiful - as if being painted with lapis lazuli. And of course I like the golden capricorn I see above - my birth sign :-)
    The pose of the swineherd is surprising, dramatic. The landscape lovely, and I agree with you on the trees. Beautiful work of art, thank you!

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    1. Dear Brigitta - you have hit the nail firmly on the head - the wonderful blue is crushed lapis lazuli. If you are interested in the origins of the paint that the Limbourg brothers used, August - Très Riches Heures tells you how all of the colours were obtained.

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  14. The painting is lovely, the pigs look alive.

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    1. It is quite different from the other months, but I like the pigs too.

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  15. thanks again for taking us on tour through months+seasons with these impressive manuscripts!

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    1. I am glad that you have enjoyed seeing them Jana.

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  16. I like this month's depiction of the country folk taking the pigs into the forest to eat acorns. There's so much life and character in the man and the animals and the blue is gorgeous. In my husband's Italian village I remember everyone had a pig or two until recent times. However, the pigs weren't allowed to roam in the woods. Instead the acorns were gathered and brought home to feed the animals.

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    1. I suspect that you have experienced the pork from pigs fed on acorns in Italy - it is supposed to have a much richer and fuller flavour.

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  17. This series of posts is fascinating, thanks so much Rosemary.

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    1. Thanks Linda - glad you have enjoyed the series - 4 more to completion.

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  18. The painting style is certainly different this month, Rosemary, but the depiction of the seasonal details of mediaeval country life is equally fascinating. Like you I think the Hours are a priceless record of a vanished world, even if some of its customs still survive.

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    1. I am not aware of any other pictorial record from the 14th century which is what makes it such a compelling manuscript.

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  19. Love this series too. Do you think that there is any coincidence in the fact that white truffle season is in November Rosemary and that the pigs could be truffle hunting in the forest at this time too?

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