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December 9th – Ninth day of Advent

December 9, 2008

“… wisemen from the east came to Jerusalem… and lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother… and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1, 9-11)

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Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers,  ‘The Meeting of the Magi’

At the lower right, Melchior seemingly wears the coiffure and dress of the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologus.

On the left, Balthasar, looking rather like a sultan with his black beard and turban, was inspired by an equestrian portrait of Constantine on a gold medal owned by the Duc de Berry.

Caspar, on the upper right, his traits reminiscent of the first Caesars, of whom the Duke also owned medals, now lost.

To emphasize the Oriental origins of the kings, the Limbourgs represented all the figures of the retinue turbaned and accompanied by exotic animals, camels and cheetahs.  From the crossroads we see a city meant to he Jerusalem, but the buildings are easily recognizable as those of Paris.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2008 11:09 pm

    Beautiful photo and I loved the walk through it — one notices more detail with your help!

    Hi Jeanie, welcome back to the cold north!!
    Yes, this is really beautiful. I love this book of hours – the paintings are so small and detailed. Can you imagine owning this!? wow.

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