Above: Details of illuminations from Folio 158r, Folio 163v, and Folio 173r 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).
This section of the manuscript contains a microcosm of all the complexity of structure and variety of book design to be found in the Belles Heures. It is a traditional section, yet embedded within it is an added picture-book cycle. It is inconsistent in the level of decoration accorded the various saints: some get no picture, while others get quarter-page or full-page illuminations. The border treatments also vary between narrow and broad bands. It includes stories told in single climactic scenes as well as simple, standing “portraits” of individual saints. In this section, we witness the Belles Heures in transition between a traditional book of hours and the exceptional work it became. Read more »