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


February is often the harshest month of the year, and the Limbourges capture all the chill of a snowy, wintry day, from the pale, faded sky to the snow covered hills.

In the foreground is filled with the depiction of farm, not of the villeins, but of well-to-do peasants: the dovecote, sheepfold, carts and wagons, a wattled enclosure or pantry and the farm house itself. Within the house two peasants have stripped off their braies and warm their naked legs and loins by the fire, wearing little more than simple boots, stockings and tunics. By contrast, the presumed mistress of the house warms her ankles, while remaining modestly dressed in both under dress and a simple, blue back-laced gown, the ubiquitous woman’s garment of the period.  As the peasants warm themselves, their linens hang from rods, no doubt to dry from the trudging through the snow.
 
Near the farm is a young wood-cutter, no doubt warmed by his labors, as he wears little more than a tunic , chausses and braies; his chauses rolled down about their garters. By contrast, another figure, likely man, hustles home, clutching a wool coat over his head and shoulders to keep warm. Finally, in the background, a peasant sets out from the farm toward town, driving a heavily laden donkey.
 
The severity of winter in a world without central heating permeates the image, from the shuddering figures to the hungry birds scratching for scraps near the house, which the snow makes it impossible to find elsewhere.



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