Above: Details of illuminations from Folio 162v, Folio 165v, and Folio 179r 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).
Last week I introduced the section of the manuscript with the Suffrages of the Saints—short prayers or memorials to individuals found in many books of hours. As this section can be personalized for the patron in many ways—most simply, in the number and choice of saints included, as well as in the number accorded decoration—it is one place we can look to sense the personality of the patron and artists involved. This week I want to pick out a few more of the individual saints in the Belles Heures, and raise a question that has concerned me for some time: Is this an unusually violent manuscript? Let’s begin by looking at the most violent among the Suffrages. Read more »