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Calendar Miniatures from a Book of Hours

Simon Beningabout 1550

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Simon Bening painted this pair of miniatures back-to-back on a single leaf of a book of hours. The miniatures originally appeared at the bottom of two calendar pages that listed church holidays. Each page was devoted to a particular month, and each miniature depicts an activity associated with the month. In these miniatures, Bening showed that landscape backgrounds, with their distinctive weather conditions, could be even more evocative of a particular month than the activities themselves.

Despite their small size, the scenes are as ambitious in scope and composition as independent paintings of considerably larger dimensions. Admiring these scenes as independent paintings, a previous owner of the cutting framed it and hung it on the wall like any other landscape painted on canvas or wood.

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