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Jean, Duc de Berry's Book of Hours- August

August: the Month of Sun and Summer Retreat

For August, the Limbourg brothers return to the nobility, whom we last saw enjoying the "May Jaunt". This time, the setting is at Etampes which belonged to the Duc de Berry, but which he often gave use of to Charles d'Orleans. The Chateau d'Etampes was one of the Duc's favorite retreats, and the artists have painted it so that it dominates the center of the background with its tile-covered gables, round towers, and spectacular, twelfth-century square keep, the Tour Guinette, whose corner towers still stand today.

Through the foreground a party of beautifully dressed aristocrats rides a-hawking. They are led by a richly dressed horseman, wearing a sumptuous houppelande and a white hood or chaperone. Beside him ride two couples. The man in the first wears a similar gown and straw hat with a broad, curved brim, and closely fitted, white chauses or joined hose; his feminine companion sits behind him on his mount wearing a fitted, red and dark gray, back-laced gown, with a broad neckline and a long underdress or kirtle, whose train flows over the horse's rump. The second couple is engaged in an animated, perhaps flirtatious, conversation. The nobleman wears a parti-colored gown that is less sumptuous than those worn by his fellows and is more reminiscent of those worn in the two decades preceding the Tres Riches Houres. Conversely, his lovely companion's pink houppelande is the height of 15th century fashion: high-collared, very full and belted beneath the breasts with a broad-girdle.

The entire hunting party is led by a falconer holding two birds on his left fist and dragging a long pole behind him. The huntsman is dressed much like the sheep-shearer and reaper we saw in July; a long, dagged tunic, whose sleeves have been rolled up, just as his party-colored chausses have been rolled down to escape the August humidity. He is the one member of the party depicted wearing ankle boots.
Also referring back to July, the background depicts peasants binding newly mown sheaves of wheat and loading them onto a cart. Meanwhile, some of their fellows have stripped off their clothes and have slipped into the waters of the Juine.

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