Posts Tagged ‘John the Fearless’

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saint Bruno and the Founding of the Carthusian Order

Folio 94v Folio 95r Folio 96v

Above: Details of illuminations from Folio 94v, Folio 95r, and Folio 96v 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).

A self-contained quire of two bifolia inserts another novel picture cycle between traditional sections, and we get to enjoy another display of the Limbourg brothers’ genius. This story is taken from a thirteenth-century Life of Saint Bruno, and like the other added sections, the text is reduced to four lines per page in alternating red and blue ink. It recounts the legend around Saint Bruno’s foundation of the Carthusian order, a reformist monastic sect that allowed individual monks to live as hermits but with some communal elements. Jean de Berry’s brother Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was a major patron of the Carthusian Order and built its famous monument, the Chartreuse de Champmol in Dijon. (Incidentally, the Chartreuse in Dijon is also where John the Fearless—Philip’s son and Jean de Berry’s nephew—was buried. His tomb featured the carved alabaster figures of mourners now on view at the Met in the special exhibition The Mourners: Tomb Sculpture from the Court of Burgundy.) Read more »

Friday, March 12, 2010

Calendars and Confluence

Since we’re talking about calendars, I’d like to point out a particularly lucky calendar confluence for those of us who are in New York right now (and for those who aren’t, how worthwhile it would be to visit). Three extraordinary exhibitions of medieval art with complex interrelations are here for a few more months.

At the Met, we have both The Art of Illumination and The Mourners. These exhibitions are related by patronage: the Valois dynasty was the patron in both cases, as Jean de Berry was the uncle of John the Fearless (Jean sans Peur), whose tomb is celebrated in The Mourners. Meanwhile, at The Morgan Library and Museum, you can see the exhibition Demons and Devotion: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, featuring a different book of hours that has been taken apart to show many of its illuminations as individual leaves. The Hours of Catherine of Cleves was made a generation after the Belles Heures and was painted in the Netherlands rather than France. Having two luxury books of hours exhibited this way is unprecedented, and there is no better way to understand both the uniqueness and the shared, key features of every book of hours. Each book exemplifies private, personal ownership and devotion, and Catherine of Cleves made different choices than Jean de Berry.

—Wendy Stein