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.