The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry

Limbourg brothers1405-1408/1409

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens
New York City, United States

Completed by 1408 or 1409, probably in Paris, "The Belles Heures," a private devotional book, was the first of several sumptuous manuscripts commissioned by the duke of Berry from the Limbourg brothers, Pol, Jean, and Herman. It is perhaps the only virtually complete and stylistically consistent prayer book to survive from the duke's extraordinary library. The richly illustrated text is amplified by unusual cycles reflecting the duke's personal interests. Using a luminous palette, the artists blended an intimate Northern vision of nature with Italianate modes of figural articulation. The keen interest in the natural world and the naturalistic means of representing it, so striking in ninety-four full-page and fifty-four column illuminations, foreshadow the work of Jan van Eyck and the ensuing generations of outstanding fifteenth-century painters in the South Netherlands.


  • Title: The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry
  • Date Created: 1405-1408/1409
  • Provenance: Jean, Duke of Berry d. 1416 (1408–09; in inventory 1413–d. 1416) ; Yolande, Queen of Sicily and Duchess of Anjou (from 1416–d.1443) ; Baron d'Ailly (sold 1880) ; Baron Edmond de Rothschild , Paris (from 1880) ; Maurice Edmond de Rothschild , Geneva (from 1936–1954) ; [ Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York , New York (sold 1954)]
  • Physical Dimensions: w170 x h238 cm
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1954
  • Artist: Herman, Paul, and Jean de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416)
  • Type: Manuscripts & Illuminations
  • External Link: MMA
  • Medium: Tempera, gold leaf, and ink on vellum

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