Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Feeding of the Multitude

Folio 168v

This miniature illustrates the Gospel for the fourth Sunday in Lent, known as Laetare Sunday because the Introit begins with the words "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice Jerusalem").
Saint John tells the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, the first image of the Eucharist. Jesus went up into a mountain near the Sea of Tiberias, and when He saw the multitude following Him, He said to Philip:
"...Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat! ...One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: there is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many! Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would." (John VI: 5, 8-11)
We see the lad presenting the two fishes and the five barley loaves which Jesus sanctifies before distributing them. Blessing the scene from heaven is God the Father, united with Christ by the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, which symbolizes the role of the Trinity in this miracle.
Like those before and after it, this miniature is painted in a somewhat antiquated style characterized by foliage on a blue background and the voluminous garments that envelop the figures. This archaism links the Feeding of the Multitude to scenes in the Belles Heures as well as to the Hours of the Passion cycle (folios 142v-157r) and the Adoration of the Magi (folio 52r) in the Très Riches Heures.
The Limbourgs have carefully painted extremely realistic columbine and snails in the margins. Differing from the floral ornamentation in the other miniatures, this decoration occupies almost the whole border, in a manner which relates the work to that of contemporaneous miniaturists and again marks its antiquation in comparison with other paintings in the manuscript.

small image (33KB) --- large image (296KB) --- God the Father and the Holy Spirit (large) (271KB) --- Christ feeds the multitude (large) (260KB)

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