Limbourg Brothers, "The Procession of the Flagellants" from the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, c. 1405-1408/9, ink, tempera, and gold leaf on vellum, 9⅜" x 6⅝”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Just a Second: Book of Hours

Book of Hours (noun)

A book used for private prayer, popular from the tenth through the sixteenth century in Europe, that has devotions to the Virgin Mary that are performed at specific hours of the day.  These books were bestsellers in late Medieval times.

One of the books of hours commissioned by Jean, Duke of Berry, the fabulously wealthy brother of the King of France, will be on display at the Louvre in Paris from April 4th through June 25th, 2012.  The leading manuscript illuminators in France at the time, the Limbourg Brothers, embellished the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry with beautiful and innovative illustrations.

The somewhat unsettling “Procession of Flagellants” (above) shows flagellants, who are nude to the waist and wear wide-brimmed hats, processing while holding a dragon banner, as was the custom in northern Europe during Rogation Days.  The Limbourg Brothers treatment of the scene characteristically has some medieval motifs, like the patterned background, along with the new naturalism, seen in the realistic treatment of the human bodies.


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