Posts Tagged ‘Vitis vinifera’

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Vintage

September page from the Belles Heures thumbnail September Activity thumbnail The Zodiacal Sign of Libra thumbnail

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for September 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 Libra. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

Images of peasants sowing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, and storing wheat in the appropriate months dominate the medieval calendar tradition—the only agricultural product that rivals wheat’s importance in the cycle of the year is the wine grape, Vitis vinifera. (For more on wine grapes and wine in the Middle Ages, see “Grapevines at The Cloisters,” March 13.). Read more »

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grapevines at The Cloisters

Grapevines in the courtyard of The Cloisters Pruning the grapevines in the courtyard Emerging leaf on the Concord grape

Above, from left to right: Grapevines have long been trained against the south-facing wall of the courtyard; Kevin Wiecks prunes last year’s growth back to a few dormant buds; the pink of the new foliage is transitory but beautiful.

Wine and wine grapes were of great economic and symbolic importance in the Middle Ages. Vineyards were associated both with royal and noble estates and with monasteries. Medieval wines were drunk new, and spiced wines, or piments, were also enjoyed. Wine was not only a beverage but a medicament, and the Tacuinum Sanitatis recommends grapes as a purifying and nourishing food. Read more »

Friday, March 6, 2009

Marching Out

March page from the Belles Heures March Activity: Cultivating Vines The Zodiacal Sign of Aries

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for March, 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 Aries. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

The name “March” is derived from Martius, the Roman god of war, fertility, and vegetation. In ancient Rome, military campaigns traditionally began in the spring, which also coincided with the return to agricultural labor in the fields after the winter rest. Read more »