Archive for December, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Merry Winter Solstice to You All

Cloisters Candelabra

Above: The iron candelabra placed throughout the galleries of The Cloisters are decked with boxwood, ivy, apples, roses, and holly from mid-December until early January. This year’s decorations will be on view through Sunday, January 2. Photograph by Andrew Winslow.

WISHING YOU PEACE, PLENTY, AND EVERY GOOD THING IN THE COMING YEAR. 

—Deirdre Larkin and the staff of The Cloisters Museum & Gardens

Friday, December 10, 2010

December’s Labors

Psalter and Hours of Bonne of Luxembourg, Duchess of Normandy
December Labor: Killing Boar

December Labor: Cutting Firewood

The calendar pages of medieval Books of Hours were embellished with illuminations depicting the traditional labors or activities associated with the month. Above, two folios showing the activities for December, from the Psalter and Hours of Bonne of Luxembourg, Duchess of Normandy. The Cloisters Collection, 1969. (69.86). (See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.) In the detail shown in the center, a man prepares to deal the death stroke to a boar; the detail on the right shows a man cutting firewood with an ax. (The cutting and gathering of firewood is a minor labor, sometimes shown as a late autumn or early winter activity.)

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Major Barbara

Saint Barbara 50.159 Saint Barbara 37.52.1 Saint Barbara 55.166

Above, from left to right: Saint Barbara (detail), mid-15th century, French, Gift of Mr. Edward G. Sparrow, 1950 (50.159); Detail of Saint Barbara from The Virgin Mary and Five Standing Saints above Predella Panels, 1440–46, The Cloisters Collection, 1937 (37.52.1); Saint Barbara (detail), ca. 1490, German, The Cloisters Collection, 1955 (55.166).

Although Saint Barbara is not mentioned in early martyrologies, hagiographies place the early Christian virgin and martyr in the third century A.D. According to The Golden Legend, a popular collection of saints’ lives dating to the thirteenth century, she was martyred on the fifth of December, during the reign of Emperor Maximianus and under the orders of Martianus, the prefect of her city of Heliopolis, in Phoenicia. Veneration of Saint Barbara was common in both the eastern and western churches by the ninth century, and she remains a popular saint to this day, although her feast is widely celebrated on the fourth rather than the fifth of December. Read more »