Above: Details of illuminations from Folio 211v, Folio 215r, and Folio 223v from the 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).
We have come to the final section of the Belles Heures manuscript, mainly a small selection of masses. This is a section that sneaks up on you in interest. It first presents as a traditional element—with most of its text in two columns of black ink—but then inserts a few pages in picture-book format. Like the section dedicated to the Penitential Psalms (Folio 66r through Folio 72r), this one starts out with a series of small quarter-page illuminations, but finishes with magnificently accomplished full-page pictures. Finally, it isn’t fully traditional; not all books of hours contain masses, and their inclusion here leads us into interesting questions about Jean de Berry’s use of his prayerbook. Read more »