From the most renowned art collections in the world: some of the most beautiful and famous depictions of the zodiac in book art

The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths

Paris (France); Bruges (Flanders) and others — 12th-16th century

The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths

The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths

Paris (France); Bruges (Flanders) and others — 12th-16th century

  1. Signs of the zodiac often appear in the calendar pages of prayer books alongside labors of the month

  2. The growing popularity of astrology in the Late Middle Ages reflects the increasingly secular culture of the Renaissance

  3. These 12 folios present each sign of the zodiac and represent some of the world’s most prestigious art collections

Kassette Herrscher des Himmels

Mayer van den Bergh Breviary

March: Pruning and Digging

This splendidly colorful and atmospheric labor of the month shows the garden of a castle in March, when preparations were made for the coming of spring. Pruning away old, dead tree limbs allows for the flourishing of new ones while digging up and turning over the soil invigorates it with fresh nutrients. A female figure on the right tends to herbs and the noble lord leans against a wall observing and directing the work of the four gardeners while two ladies look on in the background.

The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths

Alternative Titles:
  • Kasssette Herrscher des Himmels
  • Die zwölf Tierkreiszeichen und ihre Mythen
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The signs of the zodiac and the mythology surrounding them have been prominent in numerous civilization throughout history, enjoying tremendous popularity in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Astrology continues to fascinate modern mystics and the gorgeous surviving specimens of medieval art concerning astrology are also a valuable source for historians and researchers from various disciplines.

The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths

Astrology and the signs of the zodiac in particular were among the most popular subjects for book artists of the Late Middle Ages. Often appearing in the calendar pages of prayer books alongside labors of the month or in the margins of maps, the growing popularity of these mythological symbols reflects the increasingly secular culture of the emerging Renaissance and the embrace of classical, even pagan ideas by inquisitive Europeans. This selection of single sheets represents a survey of some of the finest and most famous astrology-themed miniatures and calendar pages created between the 12th and 16th centuries, and simultaneously represent the most prestigious collections of medieval manuscripts in the world from Vatican City to the City of Angels – Los Angeles.
1. Aries, Breviary of Mayer van den Bergh, 1510, Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp
2. Aquarius, Stammheimer Missale, Hildesheim, 1160-1180, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
3. Pisces, Hours of the Duke of York, Rouen, 1430-1440. Bibloteca Apostiloca Vatican, Rome
4. Scorpio, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Paris, 1413, Musée Condé, Chantilly
5. Sagittarius, Les Petite Heures du Duc de Berry, Paris, 1372-1390, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
6. Capricorn, Book of Hours, Netherlands/Bruges (?), 1500, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich
7. Leo, French Book of Hours, 1500, British Library, London
8. Virgo, The Bedford Hours, 1420, British Library, London
9. Libra, Grandes Heures du Duc de Rohan, Paris, 1430-1435, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
10. Taurus, Book of Hours of Isabella the Catholic, 1450-1460, Real Biblioteca del Palacio Real, Madrid
11. Gemini, Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne, Paris, 1503-1508, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
12. Cancer, Flemish Calendar, Bruges, 1525, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Kasssette Herrscher des Himmels
Die zwölf Tierkreiszeichen und ihre Mythen
Date
12th-16th century
Language
Illustrations
12 miniatures
Content
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths
Artist / School
Kassette Herrscher des Himmels

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

October: Sowing Winter Rye

Rye and other Winter crops are typically sown in autumn, germinate under the snow, and are among the first harvested in Spring. This calendar page from the esteemed Limbourg brothers features the gorgeous residence of this famous bibliophile as a background. This is an incredibly accurate and detailed depiction; it is not only a work of art but is also of immeasurable worth to historians.

Not only are the figure reliable depictions of contemporary people, they are portrayed with revolutionary realism, even with regard to their shadows. A farmer in a blue tunic spreads the seeds, and despite the scarecrow styled as an archer, birds flock to the field. Another farmer on a horse pulls a harrow with a stone on it to break up the soil.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths“

Kassette Herrscher des Himmels
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Several Owners
Imageof

Kassette Herrscher des Himmels

1 volume: 12 leaves: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2005
Limited Edition
1995
Binding
Box
Commentary
1 volume
Language: German
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