Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Ascension

Folio 184r

This illustration of the Office of the Ascension is by Jean Colombe. The text chosen for this mass is extremely brief: "And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven... " (Mark XVI: 19)
However, the Epistle from the Acts of the Apostles is more explicit: " And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven! This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven. " (Acts I: 9-11)
Jean Colombe has taken certain liberties with the text, while following some old iconographical traditions. On the right are the eleven apostles described by Mark (Judas has not yet been replaced), among whom John and Peter are clearly recognizable.
But on the left, in addition to the Virgin, whom French artists always showed in this scene, are the Holy Women and other disciples. All kneel, as in Giotto's fresco in the Arena Chapel in Padua. Following an old custom, Jean Colombe has shown the imprint of Christ's feet on the rock between the two groups.
The two men in white apparel who came to announce the Second Coming have not been included in the miniature. Jesus is accompanied in His ascension by a heavenly host who ignore the apostles.
Unprotected by clouds, He rises in the sky. He does not extend His arms as usual in this event, but makes a gesture of benediction with His right hand and holds a thin, symbolic cross in His left.

small image (36KB) --- large image (263KB) --- Jesus ascends to Heaven (large) (219KB) --- The Virgin and the apostles (large) (224KB)

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