Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry


Folio 10v

October, the month of tilling and sowing, is represented along the left bank of the Seine. The view is from the vicinity of the Hôtel de Nesle, the Duc de Berry's Paris residence, from approximately the same vantage point as in the month of June.
In June the Limbourgs looked east, while here they turn toward the north; in June they painted the Palais de la Cité, former residence of the kings of France, while here they show the Louvre, the royal residence since the time of Philippe Auguste (reigned 1180-1223).
Before us is the imposing mass of the Louvre of Charles V, the Duc de Berry's brother, as seen from the windows of the Duke's hôtel; it is rendered so scrupulously that we can make out its every detail.
In the middle rises a big tower, the dungeon built by Philippe Auguste, whose outline is traced in the paving of the château's cour carrée (square courtyard). This dungeon, commonly called the Tour du Louvre, symbolized the royal prerogative; from here appanages were granted, and here the royal treasure was housed.
In the miniature the dungeon hides the northwest tower, known as the Tour de la Fauconnerie, where Charles V kept the precious manuscripts of his library. But we can see the three other corner towers: to the right is the Tour de la Taillerie; then the eastern facade protected by twin towers whose outline is also visible on the courtyard paving; farther to the left is the Tour de la Grande Chapelle, followed by the southern facade, also with double towers.
Every detail is so precise that even today, several centuries after this Louvre's destruction, a model of it was made possible thanks largely to the Limbourgs' painting. An enceinte marked by the towers and machicolated balconies stretches along the Seine in front of the château. At left is a postern.
Tiny figures stroll on the quai from which steps lead to the river, giving access to the boats.
In the foreground, in the fields bordering the left bank, a peasant wearing a blue tunic sows seeds that he carries in a white cloth pouch. A bag of grain lies on the ground behind him, beyond which birds peck at the newly sown seeds.
At the left, another peasant on horseback draws a harrow on which a heavy stone has been placed to make it penetrate more deeply into the earth. A scarecrow dressed as an archer and strings drawn between stakes both help discourage birds from eating the seeds.
This scene of country life in the shadow of the royal residence gives us a vivid image of the outskirts of Paris at the beginning of the fifteenth century.

small image (25KB) --- large image (228KB) --- detail (large) (220KB) --- Louvre (detail) (208KB) --- Peasant with a harrow (detail) (258KB) --- Peasant sowing seeds (detail) (256KB)

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