Posts Tagged ‘February’

Friday, February 19, 2010

Getting Warm

February Activity page from The Hours of Jeanne d'Évreux february-calendar_activity_bh_150 february-calendar_pisces_150

Above, from left to right: Detail of the activity for the month from the February calendar page of  The Hours of Jeanne d’Évreux, ca. 1324–28; detail of the activity for February from the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409; detail of the zodiacal symbol Pisces from The Hours of Jeanne d’Évreux. 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).

In the medieval calendar tradition, the month of February is frequently represented by a solitary male figure seated before a fire; he may or may not be cooking his meal as he warms himself. A table set with a few dishes is sometimes placed by the fire, a variant on the theme of feasting common to both January and February. (See “The January Feast,” January 15, 2010). Read more »

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fair Maids of February

Budding snowdrops in Bonnefont Garden Snowdrop bulbs opening Fully open flowers

Above, from left to right: a cluster of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) budding beneath a quince in Bonnefont Garden; each bulb sends up two leaves and a single flowering stem; the fully open flowers persist for weeks.

The snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the first spring bulb to emerge in Bonnefont Garden. Native to much of Europe, although probably naturalized in England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, and Scandinavia, the snowdrop blooms from January to March in woods and scrub and by streams (Martyn Rix and Roger Phillips, The Bulb Book, 1981). It is widely grown in gardens on both sides of the Atlantic, and has escaped and naturalized in Canada and the northeastern United States. Read more »

Friday, February 6, 2009

February Fill-Dyke

February page from the Belles Heures February Activity: Warming Before the Fire The Zodiacal Sign of Pisces

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for February, 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 Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1); detail of the activity for the month; detail of the zodiacal symbol Pisces. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

February fill dike
Be it black or be it white;
But if it be white,
The better to like.

—From John Ray’s A Collection of English Proverbs, 1670

Rain or snow, the month of February was associated with precipitation and uncertain weather, and abounded in weather lore. Fine weather on the medieval feast of Candlemas (February 2) signified a long winter, and rainy weather an early spring, long before the American institution of Groundhog Day. The groundhog who may or may not see his shadow had European antecedents in the German badger and the Swiss wolf. Read more »