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Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry, 1405–1408/9. Herman, Paul, and Jean de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France by 1399–1416). French; Made in Paris. Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on vellum; 9 3/8 x 6 5/8 in. (23.8 x 16.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1).
Suffrages of the Saints
Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and Eleven Thousand Virgins, Folio 178v
The legend tells of Ursula agreeing to marry the pagan king of Britain on the condition that he be baptized, and also send eleven thousand virgins to accompany Ursula on a pilgrimage to Rome. On their return voyage, depicted here, the women were slaughtered. The depiction of the ship resembles that in the illuminations for Saints Louis, Jerome, Nicholas, and Clement. The severed head in the right foreground recalls the head reliquaries that were found in many churches and in the duke’s own collection.