Limburg Brothers

Limburg (or Limbourg) Brothers, Netherlandish manuscript illuminators, Herman, Jean (Jannequin), and Paul (Pol), all three of whom died in 1416, presumably victims of the plague or other epidemic. Pol was probably the head of the workshop, but it is not possible to distinguish his hand from those of his brothers.

They were born in Nijmegen, nephews of Jean Malouel, and Herman and Jean are first documented in the late 1390s apprenticed to a goldsmith in Paris. In 1402 Jean and Pol were working for Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and after Philip's death all three Limburgs worked for his brother Jean, Duc de Berry, remaining in his service until their deaths and holding privileged positions at his court, which moved with him around France from one magnificent residence to the next. He was, indeed, one of the most extravagant patrons and collectors in the history of art, and the Limburgs illuminated two manuscripts for his celebrated library: the Belles Heures (Met. Museum, New York, c. 1408) and the Très Riches Heures (Musée Condé, Chantilly), which was begun c. 1413 and left unfinished at their deaths; it was completed by the French illuminator Jean Colombe (c. 1440-93?) about seventy years later.

The Très Riches Heures is by common consent one of the supreme masterpieces of manuscript illumination and the archetype of the International Gothic style. Its most original and beautiful feature is the series of twelve full-page illustrations of the months--the first time a calendar was so lavishly treated--full of exquisite ornamentation and beautifully observed naturalistic detail. The miniatures are remarkable, too, for their mastery in rendering space, strongly suggesting that one or more of the brothers had visited Italy, and they occupy an important place in the development of the northern traditions of landscape and genre painting.

© 14 Oct 2002, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
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