The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters
The Limbourg Brothers
Paul, Herman and John Limbourg
Dutch Medieval Illuminators
The brothers were born sometime in the 1370s and they all died of the plague in 1416
The Limbourg Brothers were masters of illuminated manuscript painting. They had an extraordinary courtly style, graceful and refined. In the year 1413 Paul, Herman and John Limbourg were selected by the French Duke of Berry, Jean de Berry, to illuminate the Très Riches Heures, a Book of Hours. This masterpiece of manuscript illumination is widely regarded as the greatest success of Gothic book illumination as well as the highlight of medieval painting. Sadly the Duke along with all three brothers perished in the plague epidemic of 1416 and the book was not completed until some time later. In Medieval times book illumination materials were extremely costly, and included ground up precious stones and gold and silver leaf. The labour involved was tremendous and illustrated manuscripts often took years and sometimes decades to complete. Only the rich and powerful could afford to purchase such masterpieces. The best illuminators, such as the Limbourg Brothers, were celebrities, highly sought after. They received sumptuous gifts and money from their royal patrons.
Like many Medieval painters The Limbourg Brothers loved painting scenes of sinners wallowing in Hell. The horrible fate of backsliders and heathens suffering at the hands of demons and the devil were among their favorite subjects.
Illuminated manuscripts represented early Christian culture and values as well as courtly splendor. Most prominently featured are the holy symbols of the Christian faith--Christ, Saints, The Cross, Virgin Mary, Chalice, Keys, The Anchor, Wheat , Animals, Fish, Angels,Birds, Insects and Satan.
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