Monday, April 03, 2006
April at the Chateau of Dourdan
In the Limbourg Brothers’ Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, April (above) is symbolised by a newly betrothed couple standing in a green landscape, with the Duc’s chateau of Dourdan dominating the background. March also features a castle, Lusignan, but the foreground is taken up with agricultural work: sowing and ploughing fields. In contrast April seems to convey the delights of spring - full of pleasure and hope for the future. Two maidens are picking flowers. The trees are in full leaf and new blossoms are visible in the orchard.
The miniatures were painted by the Limbourgs in 1413-16 and completed later by Jean Colombe. There are landscape elements in every month, ranging from February’s scene of winter snow to November’s detailed view of ploughing in fields near the Louvre. However the Hours also include many other illustrations of scenes from the Bible and these too display an interest in landscape: for example a plan of Rome, the Annunciation to the Shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, and an unusual night scene at Gethsemane. Sadly the Limbourgs were not able to paint the Flight into Egypt, always a stimulating subject for landscape painters, and so it was left to Jean Colombe to execute this particular miniature.