CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry

Exhibition: 18 November 2008 - 8 February 2009

From the museum website, 2 November 2008

The Belles Heures of John, Duke of Berry is one of the most beloved books of the Middle Ages and one of the most sumptuous. Painted by the Limbourg brothers when the art of manuscript illumination in France reached new heights of elegance and sophistication, the book, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be presented with its individual leaves unbound. The resulting display offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the visitor to walk through the book to view all of its major miniatures, a unique gallery of paintings of sublime beauty.

The Belles Heures is a private prayer book commissioned in the early 1400s by John, the Duke of Berry (1340–1416), the son, brother, and uncle of three successive French kings. He appears twice in the Belles Heures, including the image at right, in which he rides a white horse toward a castle flying the flags of Burgundy.

The Belles Heures was illuminated by brothers Paul, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg, the leading northern European artists of their time. The book features 172 miniatures, a staggering quantity that reflects the duke’s recognition of the illuminators’ extraordinary talents.

The event web page presents selected masterpieces from the exhibition.