Created between 1405 and 1408 or 1409, probably in Paris, the Belles Heures, or Beautiful Hours, a private devotional book, is one of the most sumptuous manuscripts to have come down to us from the Middle Ages. Commissioned by Jean de France, duc de Berry from the Limbourg brothers, the most gifted artists of their time, it is the only manuscript completed by them in its entirety. The richly illustrated text is enhanced by seven unprecedented picture cycles devoted to Christian figures or events that held special significance for the duke. 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 the 172 illuminations, foreshadow the work of Jan van Eyck and the ensuing generations of outstanding 15th-century painters in the South Netherlands.
#48. 82nd & Fifth: Boy Geniuses: The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry
Jean, Duke of Berry d. 1416 (1408/09–d. 1416; item no. 960 in 1413 inventory) ; Yolande, Queen of Sicily and Duchess of Anjou (1417–d.1443) ; Pierre-Gabriel Bourlier, baron d'Ailly (before 1879–sold by 1884) ; Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Paris (by 1884–d. 1934) ; by descent, Maurice Edmond Charles Rothschild, Paris and Geneva (1936–1954) ; [ Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York (sold 1954)]