Thursday, 27 February 2014

March - Très Riches Heures

March brings my 12 month exploration of Les Très Riches Heures to its conclusion.
Spring is on the way, the snow has melted, and the peasants are preparing the fields and vineyards for the new growing season. In the background, situated on a hill top, is Château de Lusignan which dominates the farmland surrounding it. The château in the Départment of Vienne was a formidable structure with multiple defensive walls and was owned by the Duc de Berry in the early 15th century. To the right we can see a tower with a protective gilded dragon on its summit.
At the top left a shepherd with his horse and dog are looking after a flock of sheep; below are three peasants pruning vines; to their right is a vineyard which has already been prepared for the spring growing season; at the far right is a peasant sifting a bag of seed corn; and in the foreground we see a peasant ploughing a field with 2 oxen. The Limbourg brothers were keen to show how important agriculture was to the peasant economy and how dependent upon them were the aristocracy for the upkeep of their castles, châteaux and lands.
The blue lunette shows the zodiac sign for Pisces in the first half of the month and Aries in the second half. In the centre the chariot of the sun continues it's yearly cycle through the heavens.
Note: The illuminations painted for the Book of Hours inspired several of the backdrops to sets used by Laurence Olivier in his film of Shakespeare's play Henry V.
The original of Les Très Riches Heures is held in the Musée Condé, Chantilly. Due to conservation concerns it is no longer available for the public to see.
February Très Riches Heures here.
To view the 12 months of the year in more detail commence here with April.

42 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary,
    What a truly remarkable set of images these are and how beautifully they have illuminated each month of the year. The detail which they contain is simply breathtaking and the colours captivating.

    Rather sad that Les Tres Riches Heures is no longer available for public viewing but so good that we have enjoyed them through you.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - these illuminated manuscripts are such a wonderful pictorial documentary of how life was lived by both the aristocrats and the peasants who worked for them during the early 15th century in France - it must be a unique record.

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  2. That's like from our life today. Preparing for the cultivating (gardening) season... Lovely! Happy Friday, Rosemary!

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    1. Dear Satu - you are right - the seasons of life continue for us in much the same way today. Enjoy the coming weekend.

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  3. Beautiful how these 12 images show the months of the year, it is lovely to look at them.

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    1. Thank you Janneke - I am pleased that you have enjoyed seeing them. I can't believe how the 12 months have past so quickly since I posted the first one in April 2013.

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  4. I have really enjoyed looking at these images every month. The colours have been stunning and the detail fascinating. I wish there were more to see! March was obviously a busy month with a sense of a new farming year beginning and the sowing and ploughing underway. It is a shame that the original can no longer viewed.

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    1. Dear Wendy - there are a lot more illuminated manuscripts that were painted by the brothers for the Duc de Berry. There are a total of 206 vellum leaves - I may show some of these in the future. They show such illustrations as The Nativity; The Pentecost; The Purified souls in Purgatory; and the Anatomical Zodiac of Man.

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  5. Lovely and I see all is busy after your winter. Would be the opposite down here, getting ready for Autumn which is tomorrow, the 1st day :)

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    1. I have become so much more aware of this fact since I have been blogging and have several followers down in your part of the world.

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  6. It all looks so placid, peaceful and magnificently organised - quite different from the experience of most people who lived then. Perhaps that was one of its attractions, a colourful and idealised world. I didn't realise that originals were no longer on display.

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    1. I suppose that the illustrations were rather idealised, and that is most likely due to them being commissioned from the Duc de Berry. I don't expect he wanted to see a 'warts and all' approach taken with them.
      As you suggest life for the peasants would have been very basic and rather miserable during that period as it was in our country too during the early 15th century.

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  7. How much, and how little, has changed. It's been fascinating to see the cycle of the seasons played out in these manuscripts. Agriculture must have been very important, given the number of peasants that feature in each of these paintings, but then it was far more labour intensive than today.

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    1. I suppose that the biggest changes in agriculture have happened during the 20th century. My husband's father was a farmer and he was still using horses to plough his fields in the 1950s much like the peasant in the manuscript.

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  8. Thanks, Rosemary, for sharing these. I've really enjoyed the entire series. Can I pick a favorite? Probably February because of the beauitful snowy fields. How ironic because I am tired of all the snow we've received this winter.

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    1. Dear Loi - the snow is very well depicted and a very unusual image for that period when snow was hardly ever painted. The earliest snow painting I can recall is Pieter Bruegel the Elders painting of Hunters in the Snow and that was 150 years after the Très Riches Heures manuscript.

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  9. This has been a great series, Rosemary, very enjoyable for us all. Aside from the interesting look at agricultural practices, I love the composition of this one. The diagonals, set off-centre, with the little shrine, and the valley tilting uphill towards the Chateau - very pleasing to the viewer. Oh, and the little gold dragon is gorgeous, an amusing touch.

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    1. It is interesting that you should mention the little shrine which then led my eye towards the church on the lefthand side which I had not noticed. Although Château de Lusignan is no more, I wonder if the little shrine is still in existence, I believe that the church is still there.

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  10. The lovely season is coming now...Spring...
    Here we haven't snow ( until now) this year...and we begin also preperated the garden.
    Have a nice Weekend Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. I do love the prospect of spring Inge - we have not had any snow either, but never say never until the next few weeks have past.

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  11. A beautiful glimpse of everyday life in what seems another world - the cycle of the year goes on.

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    1. It has been like following an illustrated documentary from 15th century during the past 12 months that I have been posting these manuscripts. As you mention the cycle of the year goes on, and not entirely dissimilar from today.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,what a beautiful-collage- calender,you made!!Spring has come and i like it!Thank you for your visit!I really appreciate it!
    Wish you a happy new month of March!!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - I think we are all feeling a sense of joy that spring is now on its way. Hope the month of March is a happy time for you too.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,

    I've enjoyed this remarkable accounting of not only the year, but of 15th-century life. It would be interesting to know how it was valued by the Duc de Berry in terms of how the Limbourg Brothers were repaid. I wonder if they received money, food and lodging, pensions? I imagine it might have been a tenuous life for a 15th-century artist, though everything is relative, isn't it?

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    1. Dear Mark - apparently the Duc de Berry valued Herman, Paul and Johan's work highly. In fact Paul especially was on good terms with the duke, and received a court position as valet de chambre or personal attendant. The duke gave him jewellery and a big house in Bourges. Paul was attracted to a young girl called Gillette la Mercière, but her parents disapproved. The duke had the girl confined, and released her only on the king's command. In 1411 Paul and Gillette were married - the girl was 12 Paul was 24 at the time. There were no children, and you may recall that all the Limbourg brothers died of the plague five years later in 1416, they were all under 30 years of age. The Duke also died in 1416 - it is not known whether he died of the plague as he was 75 years old.

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  14. Hello Rosemary, I'd bet that if a scene like this would be painted today, the emphasis would be on the lushness and romance of spring, yet this is perhaps the least colorful of the series, and every single person is hard at work.

    Your comment about the Musée Condé putting away the manuscript struck a chord. Of course, these must be conserved, but those interested in such art should seek every opportunity of witnessing originals--I have never seen a photograph or reproduction of an illuminated manuscript that came anywhere near the vibrancy and beauty of the original.
    --Jim

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    1. There was another manuscript that the brothers did for the Duc de Berry called Les Belles Heures, a lavishly illustrated medieval book of prayers. It is now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of art, NY. If you are ever there you should try and see it.

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  15. Dear Rosemary
    I love when you post about - March - Très Riches Heures. Your research and observations are wonderful. I feel like I have had "the docent tour" Many thanks and wishing you a pleasant weekend

    Helen xx

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    1. Dear Helen - thank you for your kindness - it is hard to believe that I started doing these posts a year ago now. So pleased that you have enjoyed seeing them.

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  16. Interesting to see the every day life in the 15th century and to notice that things actually remain the same , only it was so much more of a physical ordeal to cultivate the fields .

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    1. I think that we would have great difficulty coping with the life that was led in the 15th century. As you mentioned the physical ordeal of cultivating the fields, and then getting back to your hovel with no hot water or central heating - we have it so easy today in comparison.

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  17. Teraz w marcu robimy prawie to samo. Jednak teraz życie jest łatwiejsze. Pozdrawiam.
    Now, in March we do almost the same thing. But now, life is easier. Yours.

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    1. Nie powinniśmy narzekać nasze życie dzisiaj jest tak łatwo w ​​porównaniu.

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  18. The finale of a beautiful series Rosemary. It was so very interesting. Such a pity the little pieces of art can't be viewed anymore. I hope they will be in the future sometime.
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - 12 months later and I finally made it.

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  19. Beautiful images. Whilst I understand they must be protected, what is the point of items like this if no-one can see them. Thanks for sharing these, I'd never heard of them.

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    1. Apparently it has become so degraded and fragile, and that is why it has to be kept under special conditions. Thank you for visiting Suzie.

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  20. This has been such an enjoyable and interesting series of posts, Rosemary- a real pleasure to read each month. Thank you.

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    1. That is so kind of you to say Perpetua - I don't think that I realised quite what a task I had given myself each month to do especially when it coincided with my being away etc. Your comment has made it all worthwhile - thank you.

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  21. Rosemary I have so enjoyed seeing these posts of the Tres Riches Heures, such a delight to have your interpretation of them too.
    Patricia x

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    1. I got there in the end Patricia - thank you for your kind comment which I appreciate very much.

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