The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

Paris and/or Bourges (France) — 1410–1416 and 1485–1489

Our picture of the Middle Ages, created by the Limbourg brothers for the Duke of Berry: one of the most beautiful, valuable, and famous manuscripts in the world

  1. A milestone of illumination and one of the most precious and famous manuscripts in the world

  2. The Limbourg Brothers and Jean Colombe created it for the famous bibliophile Jean Duc de Berry (1340–1416)

  3. Alongside its world-famous calendar pages, 130 full-page miniatures adorn this artistic treasure of humanity

The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (4)
Description
The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

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.

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.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Las Muy Ricas Horas del duque de Berry
Size / Format
412 pages / 29.4 × 21.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
1410–1416 and 1485–1489
Style
Language
Illustrations
131 miniatures, approx. 3000 gold initials and 1800 gilded ornamental borders
Artist / School
Previous 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

Available facsimile editions:
The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry – Ms. 65 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1984
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Las Muy Ricas Horas del duque de Berry
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011
Limited Edition: 999 copies

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2011
Limited Edition: 550 copies

Detail Picture

The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry

Funeral Procession

Set within an arcade-like architectural frame, this bas-de-page miniature is divided between two scenes. On the right we can see a funeral procession making its way through a city with monks holding torches flanking a coffin draped in a black cloth with a white cross. Perhaps the deceased was a member of a monastic military order such as the Hospitallers. A gravedigger can be seen on the left – or is he a grave robber? The skulls next to the open grave suggest the latter.

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Single Page

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

September: Harvesting Grapes

Although the manuscript is famous for being arguably the greatest work of medieval illumination, its calendar pages are regarded as the crown jewels and far exceed the typical labors of the month or zodiac signs found in a typical calendar section. The September miniature is the most famous and accomplished of them all.

This miniature was composed in two phases by two masters. The upper section depicting the sky and Château de Saumur likely originated from Paul de Limbourg and the foreground with the grape harvest was completed by Jean Colombe. The fairytale appearance of the castle belies its purpose as a fortification, and contrasts with the pastoral image of the peasants, one of one of whom is pregnant while another samples the harvest.

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Facsimile Editions

#1 Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1984
The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry – Ms. 65 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)
The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry – Ms. 65 – Musée Condé (Chantilly, France) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1984
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Bound in red kidskin with gold tooling, front and back with coat-of-arms
Commentary: 1 volume (435 pages) by Raymond Cazelles, Johannes Rathofer
Languages: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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#2 Las Muy Ricas Horas del duque de Berry

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Blue silk binding
Commentary: 1 volume (214 pages) by Raymond Cazelles, Jean Longnon and Millard Meiss
Languages: Spanish, Italian, English, German, French
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. 130 miniatures and 102 pages of text (150 pages in total) are reproduced. Goes together with a Cd-Rom containing the 208 folios which make up the original codex. Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#3 Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Publisher: Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2011
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Binding: Bound in red kidskin with gold tooling, front and back with coat-of-arms
Commentary: 1 volume by Patricia Stirnemann, Inès Villela-Petit and Emmanuelle Toulet
Languages: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#4 Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry - Die Kalenderblätter

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1994

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1994
Binding: Box
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: German
1 volume: 12 leaves under passe-partouts: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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