Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is the Tres riches heures du Jean Duc de Berry. I have wittered on at length about how much I love this manuscript. I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t. It’s amazing. One book containing so many stunning images, and such wonderful script. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to produce, and the cost. It is spectacularly sumptuous.
This image is folio 71v, and is one half of a two-page illustration showing the procession of Saint Gregory. According to the lovely facsimile of the book I own:
This subject could not have been originally planned for the Tres Riches Heures since only one text column, not space enough for a large miniature, remained free between the end of the Penitential Psalms and the beginning of the Litanies of the Saints. However the Limbourgs ingeniously used this column to paint a large double-page miniature, which they placed at the beginning of the Litanies since the Procession of Saint Gregory was known as ‘The Great Litany’ or ‘The Great Supplication’.
If you look to the bottom left, you’ll see that some of those in the procession are looking a bit peaky. Some are dying. They are suffering from plague, a disease that struck Rome at the time of Gregory’s papacy. The procession depicted in this image shows Pope Gregory leading a religious procession around the city to ward it off. He was rewarded with a vision of an Angel, and an end to the crisis.
Despite the rather macabre imagery, I love this illustration. The architectural features are beautifully detailed, and (intentionally) reminiscent of the fashionable gothic church decoration which was the style of the time. The colours are lovely, from the sky and St Gregory’s golden vision of an angel, to the vestments of the procession.
It’s just fab. I could gaze at it for hours.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.