How did they paint the Très Riches Heures?
used a wide variety of colours obtained from minerals,
plants or chemicals and mixed with either arabic or tragacinth gum to
provide a binder for the paint. Amongst the more unusual colours they
used were vert de flambe, a green obtained from crushed flowers mixed
with massicot, and azur d'outreme, an ultramarine made from crushed Middle
Eastern lapis-lazuli, used to paint the brilliant blues. (This was, of
course, extremely expensive!)
The extremely fine detail which was the characteristic feature of the
Limbourgs needed extremely fine brushes and, almost certainly, lenses.
Later additions to the Très Riches Heures carried out by the late
15th-century artist Jean Colombe were carried out in a rather less delicate
way. The calendars, however, were mostly painted by the Limbourgs; only
November includes a substantial amount of Colombe's work.
© 18 Sep 1995,
Nicolas Pioch -
Thanks to the
BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum
and contributors for their support.