Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Très Riches Heures Calendar pages

I have decided to post once again this year, as I did five years ago and two years ago, the appropriate monthly calendar page from the Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry. There is an article about this, probably the most famous Book of Hours here, which has links to articles on the artists involved. 

The manuscript was begun by the Limbourg brothers Herman (b. 1385), Paul (b.1386 or 7) and Jean (b. 1388) in 1412, but left unfinished when they all died, probably of plague, in February 1416. The Duke died that same year and the Hours were completed by other artists, later in the century, in a recognisably different style. The majority of the calendar pages are by the Limbourgs themselves, and include marvellous views of the ducal and of other royal residences in France. 

What they do not indicate in their idyllic representations - and, given the nature of the book, why should they I might add - is that they were produced against the background of civil conflict between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians, as detailed so graphically in the Journal of the Bourgeois of Paris, and, in 1415, King Henry V's invasion and his spectacular defeat of the French at Agincourt, followed by his conquest of Normandy in 1417-19.

I will post each Calendar page separately on the first day of the month with revised notes about the scene and places depicted. This is the period of history in which I might claim to specialise  - it is the one that brought me to Oxford - and I am always keen to share my enthusiasm for it.

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