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Netherlandish manuscript illuminators, the brothers Herman, Jean (Jannequin), and Pol (Paul) de Limbourg, all three of whom died in 1416, presumably victims of the plague or other epidemic. Pol was probably the head of the workshop, but it is not possible to distinguish his hand from those of his brothers. The Limbourgs came from Nijmegen and were nephews of Jean Malouel. In 1402 Jean and Pol were working for Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and after Philip's death in 1404 all three Limbourgs worked for his brother Jean, Duc de Berry, remaining in his service until their deaths and holding privileged positions at his court, which moved with him around France from one magnificent residence to the next. He was one of the most extravagant patrons and collectors in the history of art, and the Limbourgs illuminated two manuscripts for his celebrated library: the Belles Heures (c.1408, Met. Mus., New York) and the Très Riches Heures (Mus. Condé, Chantilly), which was begun c.1413 and left unfinished at their deaths (it was completed by the French illuminator Jean Colombe about seventy years later). The Très Riches Heures (see Book of Hours) is by common consent one of the supreme masterpieces of manuscript illumination and the archetype of the International Gothic style. Its most original and beautiful feature is the series of twelve full-page illustrations of the months (the first time a calendar was so lavishly treated), full of exquisite ornamentation and beautifully observed naturalistic detail. The miniatures are remarkable, too, for their mastery in rendering space, strongly suggesting that one or more of the brothers had visited Italy, and they occupy an important place in the development of the northern traditions of landscape and genre painting.

Subjects: Art.

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