Threshing It Out » August page from the Belles Heures

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August page from the Belles Heures

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 the recto page and the appropriate zodiacal sign within a corresponding frame at the bottom.

The text in gold at the top notes that August has thirty-one solar days; blue ink is used to indicate that the month has thirty lunar days. The feasts proper to August are recorded in a column below and continued on the verso of the folio. The saints’ days are listed in alternating red and blue ink, among them Saint Lawrence, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and Saint Timothy.

The feasts of the Invention of Saint Stephen, commemorating the finding of the first martyr’s relics during the reign of Emperor Honorius, and of Saint Peter in Chains, in recognition of the imprisoned apostle’s miraculous release from his bonds, are rendered in burnished gold, as are the celebrations of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the feast of Saint Bartholomew, and the beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

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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