As in the other calendar pages of the Belles Heures, the activity appropriate to the month appears within a quatrefoil frame at the top of each page, and the appropriate zodiacal sign within a corresponding frame at the bottom. The text in gold at the top of the page records that May has thirty-one solar days; blue ink is used to indicate that the month has thirty lunar days. The feasts proper to May are recorded in a column below. The saints’ days are listed in alternating red and blue ink, among them St. Athanasius the Great and St. Fortunatus of Poitiers. The feasts of St. James the Less and Saint Philip on the first of the month, the Invention of the Cross on the third, St. John the Evangelist on the sixth, and St. Nicholas on the ninth, are rendered in burnished gold.
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).