This illustration for the Office of the Dead expresses the aspects of death that were so prevalent in medieval art: its suddenness, its anguish, its bereavement, and its terrible judgment. The miniature depicts the tragic event that caused Saint Bruno to retire into solitude.
According to the tradition of the Carthesian monks, at the funeral of Raymond Diocr&rgrave;s, a canon of Notre-Dame in Paris famous for his piety and preaching, the dead man rose up in his coffin to say, "J'ai été appelé au juste jugement de Dieu, j'ai été jugé au juste jugement de Dieu, j'ai été condamné au juste jugement de Dieu." "I have been called by the just judgment of God, I have been judged by the just judgment of God, and I have been condemned by the just judgment of God."
The shape of the miniature's frame, the church architecture, parts of the foliage, and especially the birds, are in the style of the Limbourgs, who had already treated this subject in the Belles Heures. They probably designed the miniature and made a first sketch, in part still visible, which was later completed by Jean Colombe, who also added the bas-de-page and the scenes in the left and right margins.
The bas-de-page represents the dit des trois morts et des trois vifs (the story of the three dead and the three living), an edifying thirteenth-century legend that provided material for several narratives and also inspired artists, especially in the fifteenth century.
Three young horsemen of noble birth see in a cemetery three corpses who address them. "I was Pope," says one; "I was a cardinal," says the second; "I was an apostolic notary," says the third. And they add, "You will be like us: power, honor, riches are naught."
The three terrified horsemen gallop away, but upon seeing a cross they realize they have received a warning from heaven.
Almost all of the small marginal subjects relate to the life of Raymond Diocrès and Saint Bruno. At the upper left is an interesting and unusual picture of Death mounting a unicorn. The decorative foliage resembles border work the Limbourgs painted on other pages of the Très Riches Heures.
small image (47KB) --- large image (326KB) --- Architectural detail (large) (254KB) --- The church (large) (256KB) --- The priests and monks (large) (250KB) --- Raymond Diocrès (large) (249KB) --- The three horsemen and the three corpses (large) (233KB)