The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry Fol. 5v - May


Fol. 5v - May

Limbourg brothers

The chariot of the Sun passes from Taurus to Gemini. We see gentlemen in houppelandes (outer garments) and ladies in bright green garments such as those provided by the King to the ladies of the court, with crowns or garlands of green leaves. They ride out to celebrate the first day of Mayday. We meet the betrothed of April once more (we recognise their adornments: golden neck ornament with pendants and long string of coral beads). He has his back turned toward us. The lettering on the harness of his grey horses recites “Life, life, life”, as an expression of good wishes. Another horseman, centrally positioned, turns to the woman with the horned headdress. Musicians lead the way. They wear the livery of the Duke of Bourbon (pink and grey, with the symbol of the Order of the Golden Shield of Louis II of Bourbon, on this occasion readily identifiable). They play hte shawm and the sacqueboute, or sackbut (a type of slide trombone). The shawm is a powerful wind instrument flared at the end, for open air use, during processions. It is the forebear of today's oboe. Behind the trees we see the roofs of Paris and the square tower of the Châtelet with turret, the roofs of the Conciergerie, the clock tower and the palace of the Cité.


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