Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Raising of Lazarus

Folio 171r

For the fifth Sunday in Lent, Passion Sunday, the Limbourgs have illustrated the touching chapter in which Saint John describes the resurrection of Lazarus. Christ's expression here is extremely serious; His tears at the sight of His friend's tomb were noticed by those present, causing them to exclaim: "Behold how he loved him." (John XI: 36)
"Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died... Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever... Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus said: Take away the stone...When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands; and his face was bound about with a napkin." (John IX: 21, 25-26, 38-39, 43-44)
The artists have rendered the gesture with which Christ accompanied His command. Lazarus sits up and looks at Jesus, to whom Mary also turns in an attitude of faith. Between Mary and the Lord, Martha leans toward her brother.
Some persons still weep, some look on in amazement, while others hold their noses in confirmation of Martha's fear, "iam foetet": "Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days." (John XI: 39)
The admirably painted and beautifully positioned body of Lazarus occupies the center of the scene. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden (folio 25v), it seems to have been inspired by some classical statue, in this case a reclining river god.
Mary wears the orange mantle of the Magdalene in the Deposition (folio 156v), and the women beyond Christ resemble those behind the Virgin in the Adoration of the Magi (folio 52r).
Thus we see that, despite the variety of styles in different parts of the Très Riches Heures, the master of the workshop - probably Paul de Limbourg - achieved an overall unity which characterizes the work of all three brothers.

small image (21KB) --- large image (204KB) --- Lazarus' tomb (large) (252KB) --- Christ resurrects Lazarus (large) (243KB)

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