Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Presentation of the Virgin

Folio 137r

With the Presentation of the Virgin, Jean Colombe has introduced the Saturday Office devoted to the Virgin. The subject is taken from the apocryphal Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin, which describes Mary's life as an attendant in the Temple, where she was presented as a child.
Here the young, tiny Mary is shown mounting the steps of the large Temple, attended by her parents, Anna and Joachim. Tonsured and surpliced priests, and Levites, who look very much like Catholic clergymen, await her at the door.
The artist did not imaginatively envision the Temple but simply painted the familiar cathedral in Bourges, the capital of Berry and his birthplace. He depicted the building's larger center gable, known as L'houstau, with its stained glass and rose windows renovated a hundred years earlier by the Duc de Berry; the four attached buttresses, whose ornamentation was later modified; and three portals, corresponding to the nave and side aisles.
But his is only the building's general appearance, for the two side towers and their portals are missing, the pointed portal arches have been made semicircular, and their number of statues has been reduced.
The reddish mass of the church, shorn of its sides and towers, has a slightly crushing effect on the human scene it was meant to frame.

small image (32KB) --- large image (246KB) --- Joachim and Mary (large) (218KB) --- Mary and Anna (large) (208KB)

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