The Belles Heures (1405 - 1408/9) of Jean de Berry, a treasure of The Cloisters collection, is one of the most celebrated and lavishly illustrated manuscripts in this country. When it was unbound for conservation, each of its illuminated pages were exhibited as individual leaves—a unique opportunity never to be repeated. The exhibition, The Art of Illumination, elucidated the manuscript, its artists (the young Franco-Netherlandish Limbourg brothers), and its patron, Jean de France, Duc de Berry, and set the manuscript in the context of the patronage of Jean de Berry and his royal family, the Valois.
In conjunction with this incredible and historic exhibition, the curator Timothy Husband produced a comprehensive monograph of the same name, which describes the details of the creation of this masterpiece up until the very moment the Limbourg brothers handed the completed manuscript to Jean de France. After that instant, and for about the next four hundred years, almost nothing is known of the Belles Heures—but it is also at this moment that the fascinating life of the complete manuscript begins. Christopher de Hamel spins the tale of its exalted existence among the royal politics of medieval France and Europe, chasing its images and its possible owners through history.
Lecture by Christopher de Hamel, Gaylord Donnelley Fellow Librarian, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge; introduced by Timothy Husband, curator, Department of Medieval Art and the Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Learn more about the exhibition:
Learn more about the manuscript on the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: