The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

Ms. 65 - Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)

Alternate Titles:

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Las Muy Ricas Horas del duque de Berry

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Las Muy Ricas Horas del duque de Berry

Type
Extent / Format

412 pages / 29.4 x 21.0 cm

Origin
Date
1410-1416 and 1485-1489
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Jean, Duke of Berry (1340-1460)

Artist / School

Paul, Herman and Jean Limburg
Barthélemy d'Eyck
Jean Colombe

Illustrations

131 miniatures, approx. 3000 gold initials and 1800 gilded ornamental borders

Former owners

Philibert of Savoy
Margaret of Austria
the Spinosa-Family and the Marchesi of Serra
Baron Felix de Magherita of Turin and Milan
Duke of Aumale

Short description

The Très Riches Heures is the book of hours of Duke Jean de Berry, which was made by some of the most famous book artists of the Middle Ages between 1411 and 1485. The manuscript is the most popular and beautiful manuscript of the 15th centuries. The stunningly beautiful miniatures, richly adorned with gold and silver, are small masterpieces that remain unforgettable for every beholder.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Très Riches Heures of Duke Jean de Berry, an unrivalled highpoint of Flemish book art, represents the most famous handwritten and illuminated book of all time. The work was designed collectively by four of the most gifted and popular illuminators of the 15th century. The precious manuscript is adorned with 130 full-page miniatures, which are ennobled with sparkling and shimmering gold leaf and silver elements. More than 3,000 gilded initials decorate the meticulous script of the work. The book treasure is famous in particular for its 12 calendar pages, which are unrivalled to this day in their quality.

A Jewel of the Lord’s Library

Très Riches Heures is the title of the most famous book of hours of all time, which was produced in the name of the Duke of Berry. Jean de Berry is considered to be one of the greatest art patrons in history. He was an exceedingly educated man and a great friend of illuminated manuscripts. Numerous handwritten works originated from his commission, although the Très Riches Heures represents the absolute highpoint of his unfathomably valuable collection. Today the magnificent original of the manuscript is housed in the Château de Chantilly Library.

The Masters of Book Art

The Limburg Brothers, Hermann, Paul, and Jehanequin to be more precise, are responsible for the majority of the design of the splendid work. Their illustrations made the manuscript the unrivalled highpoint of the European art of illumination between the end of the Gothic period and the beginning of the Renaissance. The three brothers worked from 1411 to 1416 on the furnishing of the codex and then died under mysterious circumstances, probably a plague. Their commissioner also died during this time. An outstanding illuminator by the name of Jean Colombe finally completed work in 1485 at the behest of Karl I, Duke of Saxony.

The Magical Art of Illumination

In the miniatures, the Limburg brothers convey a medieval world that appears to be magical and leaves every beholder in astonishment. Their masterful skills, their knowledge of coloration and composition, as well as their exact powers of observation could be exceeded by no other illuminators in the world. The images thematize scenes from life at the court of the Prince of Berry, as well as everyday scenes from the life of the rural population. The exertions of field work, the enchanting beauty of the countryside, the monumentality of castles and walled cities, the magnificent garments of French high society, and the simple clothes of the peasantry are depicted. The manuscript reproduces the whole breadth of life in medieval France in a breathtaking manner.

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