Archive for August, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fie, Saint Fiacre!

Saint Fiacre thumbnail Saint Dorothea_thumbnail

Above, from left to right: Saint Fiacre; England, Nottingham, 15th century, Alabaster; H. 16 in. (40.6 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1925 (25.120.227), Former owner: George Grey Barnard, New York; Saint Dorothea, Detail from The Virgin Mary and Five Standing Saints above Predella Panels, 1440–1446, German; Made in Rhine Valley, Pot-metal glass, white glass, vitreous paint, silver stain; Each window 12 ft. 4 1/2 in. x 28 1/4 in. (337.2 x 71.8 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1937 (37.52.1-.6), See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

The feast of Saint Fiacre is celebrated on September 1 in France and in Ireland, but on August 30 in other places. One of several patron saints of gardeners, he was an Irish monk who came to France to dwell in a forest hermitage at Breuil, east of Paris. Read more »

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mysterious Cucubalus

Cucubalus baccifer in flower Detail from The Unicorn Is Killed and Brought to the Castle Cucubalus baccifer in fruit

Above, left to right: Berry-bearing catchfly (Cucubalus baccifer) flowering in a shady bed in Bonnefont Garden in July; a detail from the foreground of The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle showing the catchfly in flower and fruit behind the forelegs of a hunting dog; the shiny black fruits, which give the berry-bearing catchfly its name, ripening in August.

Berry-bearing catchfly (Cucubalus baccifer) is a pretty, lax-stemmed little plant that scrambles over and through the hellebores, ferns, and other shade-loving plants growing in a small bed under the east wall of Bonnefont Garden. We would be hard put to find a home for it anywhere else in Bonnefont, which is organized by use, since we haven’t been able to document either any medieval medicinal applications or any magical or symbolic attributes associated with it. Read more »

Friday, August 14, 2009

Threshing It Out

August page from the Belles Heures August Activity thumbnail The Zodiacal Sign of Virgo

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for August from the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409. Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416). French; Made in Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1); detail of the activity for the month; detail of the zodiacal symbol Virgo. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

Sometimes busy, bound by rings,
I must eagerly obey my servant,
Break my bed, clamor brightly
That my lord has given me a neck-ring.
Sleep-weary I wait for the grim-hearted
Greeting of a man or woman; I answer
Winter-cold. Sometimes a warm limb
Bursts the bound ring, pleasing my dull
Witted servant and myself. I sing round
The truth if I may in a ringing riddle.

—Anglo-Saxon riddle from The Exeter Riddle Book, translated by Craig Williamson

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