Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Exorcism

Folio 166r

This illustration for the third Sunday in Lent is the first in a cycle of four scenes that differs from the rest of the Limbourgs' production. The colors are warmer and deeper, the background for three of the scenes is an archaic floral design which does not occur in any of the other large miniatures, with the one exception of the Annunciation (folio 26r).
Christ's dark complexion and extreme gravity are slightly different from His appearance in the Hours of the Passion (folios 142v-157r). However, figures in the cycle, especially in the Raising of Lazarus (folio 171r), are similar to those in the Adoration of the Magi (folio 52r) and the Hours of the Passion, which would indicate the supervision and perhaps the participation of the master of the workshop (probably Paul de Limbourg), even if the cycle was executed by one of the younger brothers.
The first three Gospels do not tell much about the healing of the possessed. Luke, whose text was chosen for this Sunday, says only: "And he was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb: and when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration of it. ..." (Luke XI: 14)
The Limbourgs have painted the scene in a chapel-like structure, whose slender pillars, blue vaults, and statuettes at either side of the roof recall the Praetorium in the Flagellation (folio 144r).
Christ blesses the possessed youth who struggles in his mother's arms, while the demon leaves the boy's head in the form of a small black-winged dragon. Outside and within the chapel groups of figures wearing oriental robes and headdresses express their amazement at the miracle.
The sumptuous golden floral work on the blue background recalls the small miniature of Saint Luke in the extracts from the Gospels (folio 18r) and several of the illustrations for the Belles Heures.

small image (22KB) --- large image (217KB) --- Architectural details (large) (270KB) --- Christ exorcizes the possessed youth (large) (244KB)

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