Monday, October 20, 2008

Tres Riches Heures

One of my favorite works of art of all time is a book. The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the "Belles Heures" of Jean de France, Duc de Berry (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is an illuminated manuscript from the early 15th century. It is a decorated prayer book which not only marked the cannonical hours with prayers, but the seasons with brilliantly colored illustrations. There are also hundreds of decorated capital letters throughout. The detailed artistry attendant on the printed word is, for me, an example of the "whole being more than the sum of the parts". Books have always been a love of mine, as well as art, but to take the art directly into the text, not just with illustrations, but to wind beautiful figures around the letters themselves, seems to give them a life of their own. Following is a link to some pictures from the book. Notice in particular Folio 147v. Strange juxtaposition of the beauty of the foliage and flowers in the text with the subject matter.

The book was illustrated by the Limbourg brothers, whose lives appear to have been much more interesting than we generally expect from 15th century folk. What is known of their story can be found here:

I have always thought I would very much like to take some of these designs and use them as inspiration for a mosaic. I think the bright colors would translate well. The closest I have come so far is the work in progress here
or the carved wooden plaque here

Hope you enjoy!

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