Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Fifteenth Joy of the Virgin

Herman, Paul and Jean de Limbourg (active 1399 - 1416)
Les Belles Heures of Le Duc de Berry
1405 - 1408/9
Made in Paris
Tempera ink and gold leaf on vellum
23.8 x 17 cm
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

The page is from Quire XII, Folio 88 (part of the Fifteen Joys of the Virgin) of the Limbourg Brothers`  Les Belles Heures de Jean de France Duc de Berry.

Books of Hours were very popular devotional books in the Middle Ages

This Book was sumptuous and was probably begun in 1405 and was completed in 1409

There are 156 pages of paintings in the Belles Heures

This is the Fifteenth Joy of the Virgin: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The first image depicts Mary in white alb and in prayer transported to heaven by seven fiery red cherubim

Earth is seen below and God in Heaven is seen welcoming her into Heaven

The prayer is:

The King and attendants witness the fact of the Assumption and kneel in devotion and prayer

The prayer is (folio 91):

Books of Hours were the main tool for private devotion for 250 years until the middle of the sixteenth century

At their heart was The Hours of the Virgin (The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin), a set of prayers dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary


Husband, Timothy Bates, with an essay by Margaret Lawson. The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008

Freeman, Margaret B. "A Book of Hours Made for The Duke of Berry." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New ser., v. 15, no. 4 (December, 1956). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1956

Flinn, Elizabeth Haight. "A Magnificent Manuscript: A Historical Mystery." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 29, no. 6 (February, 1971).