Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Painting of the Day: A Leaf from a Calendar, 1510-60

Leaf from a Calendar or Book of Hours
Simon Bening
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Dating between 1510 and 1560, this double-sided leaf is thought to be from the calendar of a book of hours.  The sides appear to illustrate, on one side, the month of April, and, on the other, side the month of May.

April depicts music-makers by a canal while in the fields beyond them a cow is being milked as sheep are taken out to graze and stork makes its nest on a chimney pot.

Meanwhile, May shows a scene of typical May Day merrymaking, including a boat trip with musicians, a floral procession and joyful dancing in a town square.

This is the work of Simon Bening, from Bruges, who was one of the most celebrated illuminators of his time. He worked mainly in Bruges. His works often look more contemporary than they really are and he was responsible for many an illuminated manuscript like this one.

In the late medieval period, Books of Hours, like the one from which this page was taken, were a type of prayer book meant for private use by the worshipful.
 These portable books consisted of psalms and devotions for the eight canonical hours of the day.

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