Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry


Folio 8v

This scene is at Etampes which, like nearby Dourdan, belonged to the Duc de Berry and which he put also at the disposal of Charles d'Orléans. A richly dressed horseman, wearing a white hood and bearing a falcon on his fist, leads two couples hawking.
Leading on foot, a falconer holds two birds on his left fist and drags a long pole in his right hand. He is followed by a rider wearing a hat with upturned brims and an ultramarine cloak, carrying behind his saddle a maiden dressed in a gray frock trimmed with a white flounce; the rider releases a falcon from his right hand.
Another couple appears, perhaps more concerned with an amorous conversation than with the hunt. And, as in the month of May, small dogs accompany the riders.
The Château d'Etampes commands the scene. We can distinguish towers, the chapel, and buildings covered with tiles. In the midst rises the quadrangular twelfth-century dungeon, the Tour Guinette, flanked by corner towers which still exist.
The inventories made upon the death of the Duc de Berry attest to the pleasure he derived from his stays here.
On the hills, peasants bind into sheaves the newly mown wheat and pile the harvest onto an overloaded cart. Swimmers frolic in the Juine. A figure, obviously female, has just undressed and is preparing to enter the water, another is emerging; two more are already swimming. The deformation of the figures' appearance by the water's refraction has heen carefully observed and curiously rendered.
All of this varied scene recalls the diversions of court life amid the seasonal work of the country. Thus we review, from one month to the next, the daily life of the court of the Duc de Berry.

small image (23KB) --- large image (208KB) --- detail (large) (170KB) --- Château d'Etampes (detail) (195KB) --- Falconry party (detail) (196KB)

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