Sumer Is Icumen In » April page from the Belles Heures

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April page from the <em>Belles Heures</em>

As on the other calendar pages of the Belles Heures, the activity appropriate to the month appears within a quatrefoil frame at the top, and the appropriate zodiacal sign within a corresponding frame at the bottom of the page.

The text in gold at the head of the page records that April has thirty solar days; blue ink is used to indicate that the month has twenty-nine lunar days. The column of feasts proper to April is recorded below. The saints days are listed in alternating red and blue ink. The April 2nd feast of the “sainte Egipcienne,” or Mary of Egypt, is rendered in gold. Patron saint of penitents, she atoned for a youthful life of harlotry and dissipation in Alexandria by becoming a hermit and living the life of an ascetic in the desert east of Jordan for forty-seven years, dying ca. 421.

See the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History to learn more about manuscript illumination in Northern Europe, or see special exhibitions for information about the exhibition “The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry” (on view at the Main Building March 2 through June 13, 2010).

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