Verdure with Deer and Shields
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
AprilA young couple is shown exchanging betrothal rings in front of their parents while maidens pick flowers from the lawn. In the background stands Dourdan, one of the duke’s many residences.
Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
We see here the day chosen for exchanging gifts.
Jean de Berry enjoyed giving and receiving; Paul de Limbourg and his brothers used to participate in the festivities, presenting the prince with an object worthy of their artistry.
The Duke sits at his table, surrounded by friends.
Behind him the blaze of a large fire in the monumental fireplace is guarded by a wickerwork screen. Above the fireplace rises a red silk canopy bearing the Duke’s heraldic motifs: golden fleurs-de-lys, strewn on a blue ground. Wounded swans and bears symbolize the Duke’s love for a lady called Ursine.
With the month of December representing the end of a wild boar hunt in the forest of Vincennes, we return to the Limbourgs and the Duc de Berry.
The dungeon and square towers rising above the trees are those of the home in which the Duke was born on the eve of December: November 30, 1340.
The forests of Vincennes attracted many kings of France. Louis VII built a hunting lodge there; Philippe Auguste undertook the construction of a small château enlarged by Saint Louis, who, as we know, liked to dispense popular justice under one of its oaks. This is the wood we see represented here in the russet tones of a waning autumn.
The boar has been run down and speared by the huntsman on the left, and hounds are tearing it apart. At the right a hunter blows the mort on his small horn. The dogs’ desperate eagerness is rendered with astonishing realism: their positions, the gestures of their paws, their greedy expressions, all have been observed and noted with care. These are bloodhounds, boarhounds, hounds whose breeding an expert would recognize immediately.
December, the Breviary of Eleanor of Portugal, c. 1500-1510
Victorian vision of bringing in the Yule log in the Middle Ages.
Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, 1861.
Alternate view of Chateauneuf de Pouilly en Auxois
Location: Pouilly-en-Auxois, France
c. 13th century