Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Man of Sorrows

Folio 75r

In this fine miniature by Jean Colombe, a bloodstained Christ, showing the wounds on His breast and wrists and wearing the crown of thorns, stands in His sarcophagus before the Cross of His Crucifixion. The theme of the Man of Sorrows seems to have appeared first in fourteenth-century manuscripts in which the dead Christ was held by one or more angels. Here, He stands unaided.
On the left kneels Jean Colombe's patron, Duc Charles I de Savoie, in a voluminous ermine-hooded cloak over a blue garment. He wears the collar of an order and a headband decorated with the pearls and gems. His wife, the Duchesse Blanche de Montferrat, kneels on the other side. In the lower part two cherubs with spread wings hold the shields of Savoie and Montferrat.
A most skillfully executed landscape stretches behind Christ and the Cross. A lake dotted with rowboats winds between hills which recede in a succession of planes.
On the left rises a powerful yet elegant castle, which might be Ripaille on the banks of Lake Leman near Thonon, a favorite place of sojourn of the dukes of Savoie.
Paul Durrieu pointed out that the instructions of Charles I de Savoie to pay twentyfive ecus to Jean Colombe, then completing the Très Riches Heures, were dated August 31, 1485 at the Chateau de Ripaille (Les Très riches Heures de Jean de France, duc de Berry, p. 111). At the end of the lake, we glimpse a town which could he Geneva.
Before Jean Colombe began his work, a scribe had written four double lines of text in two columns. But the illuminator was not satisfied with the space that had suited the Limbourg brothers seventy years before; his illustration breaks into every margin to such an extent that the binder was forced to cut the top of the frame around the Duc and Duchesse de Savoie.
The decorated initials representing a scowling bearded man and a young woman with half-closed eyes are also from the workshop of Jean Colombe.

small image (38KB) --- large image (289KB) --- The cross (large) (222KB) --- The Man of Sorrows (large) (239KB)

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