Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Annunciation to the Shepherds

Folio 48r

In this miniature at the head of terce, we recognize the carefully observed, naturalistic shepherd that appeared in the Nativity (folio 44v): with head thrown back and a hand raised to his forehead he scans the sky for the angels who announce the birth of the Holy Child. Here, the Limbourgs have shown him as one of three shepherds - an old man, a youth, and a woman, who points to the angels in the sky.
The ethereal, luminous angels appear in three groups: on the right, two make music on a trumpet and viol, on the left, two play a lute and drum, and in the center, three sing a chorus from a scroll on which the artists have painstakingly noted staves, notes, and capital letters in red.
The landscape includes, on the right, a hill with grazing sheep and a black and white dog lying at the shepherds'feet, and, on the left, one of the sugarloaf hills dear to the Limbourgs, stratified from right to left.
Along its side runs a stream whose flow is caught in a basin that probably serves the animals as a watering trough. Behind the mountain we see more shepherds with their flocks and the buildings of a town supposed to be Bethlehem, "the city of David," where the angel announced that a Savior had been born.
Actually, the miniaturists have tried to suggest here, as elsewhere, certain buildings preferred by the Duc de Berry. Paul Durrieu believed that these were in Poitiers: "The central edifice, shown at an angle, could be the Tour Maubergeon. The large belfry on the right might represent the belfry of the collegiate church of Saint-Hilaire, which no longer exists" (Les Très riches Heures de Jean de France, duc de Berry p. 201).

small image (22KB) --- large image (209KB) --- Angels'choir (large) (214KB) --- Shepherds (large) (249KB) --- Poitiers (large) (254KB)

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