LIMBOURG brothers
(b. 1370-80, Nijmegen, d. 1416, Nijmegen)

Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry

c. 1416
Manuscript (Ms. 65), 294 x 210 mm
Musée Condé, Chantilly

The picture shows the illumination depicting the Temptation of Christ.

In 1410 the Limburg brothers were called to the court of Duke Jean de Berry at Mehun-sur-Yevre, near Bourges. There they painted a unique masterpiece, Les Très Riches Heures, which today still draws countless admirers to the Musée Condé in Chantilly, north of Paris. Now only ruins remain of the duke's favourite castle, the Mehun-sur-Yevre, but in his chronology of 1400, the French poet Jean Froissart praised this castle as the most beautiful in the world. One of the illustrations from the Très Riches Heures depicting the temptation of Christ does justice to Froissart's hymn of praise. With its white towers decorated with Gothic tracery, the castle depicted looks like a monumental crown. It symbolizes the wealth of the world which Christ, seen on top of a minaret-like mountain, has refudsed in order to overcome the temptations offered by the Devil. The duke possibly wanted to relate this scene to the change in his own life, the quality of which is hinted at in the depiction of the castle, a metaphor for the temptations of the world of the senses. But it is doubtful whether de Berry was always as upright as the model he set himself.