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


November is somewhat unique in the months of the Tres Riches Houres, for it is the only one painted solely by the later artist, Jean Colombe. Only the same, blue monochrome tympanum that frames the month, as it does all of its brothers, is the work of the famed Limbourg brothers. As in its mates, the tympanum depicts the zodiac for that month; in this case, depicting Scorpio at left, Sagittarius at right. In the center is a classical image of a sun chariot. In this case, the figure can be specifically identified not as Apollo, but as the Emperor Heraclius returning the True Cross to Jerusalem. The source for this symbolic image is an earlier, gold medal, and there is little doubt that it was the Limbourgs inspiration: a copy of the medal was in Jean de Berry's collection.

Unlike the ten months preceding, November does not present us with a glimpse of a famous city or chateau at the turn of the 15th century. Instead we are at the edge of the deep forest, with the towers of a nameless castle visible on the left edge of the painting. The subject is the acorn harvest. A peasant dressed in a pink tunic or cotte with golden highlights as well as shirt, braies, chauses rolled down and gartered at the knees, low boots and simple hat prepares to throw a stick into the trees, while his pigs greedily eat the fallen acorns under the watchful eyes of a herd dog. In the background, other peasants move through the trees with their own pigs, rooting out the fallen acorns. The overall feel is far more quiet and pastoral than what has come before, but also lacks the energy and vitality of the Limbourgs.

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