Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April - History's Busiest Month

April is one of the most active times of the year historically. There is reason for this. In the past, before airplanes and other modern conveniences became available, April marked the end of winter and the roads became passable. New conflicts arose and old ones resumed. Just look at our own American history; which is fairly recent in the grand scheme of things; and you will see the pattern.

The Revolutionary War began in April, with the landing of the Kings troops in Boston and the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Our Civil War may have technically begun in January, but it wasn’t prosecuted in full until the Battle of Bull Run in the spring. The war also ended in April, just in time for General Lee’s troops to return home and try to coax a harvest out of their war ravaged land.

The picture above is “April”, or “Avril” from “Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry”, which is translated as The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry.” I ran across this beautiful collection of French Gothic Art while looking up some information for this post. The complete work consists of 12 panels, each one representing a month of the year. This panel shows a couple exchanging rings.

Now, I could continue on with what would be a very boring piece about the importance of the weather in history; which is what makes April so significant in regards to the amount of historical events contained in any single month. Or, I can tell you about these new paintings I just “discovered.” I’ll take the latter option.

Apparently, at the dawn of the 15th Century; about 1400 A.D.; there was a Frenchman who had some money and wanted to chronicle the months of the year in paintings which also represented his lifestyle. To that end he commissioned the Limbourg Brothers to create a 12 panel set. The work was begun in 1412 but by 1416 the two brothers; as well as the Duke of Berry; were all dead. The paintings then passed on to his relatives, where it languished for several decades.

In 1845 an heir of the Dukes decided to have the work completed. He chose Jean Colombe to finish the set. Though his paintings are in many ways distinguishable from the original ones completed by the Limbourg Brothers, the spirit of the project remains wholly intact. Upon first viewing it would appear that these paintings were the result of one unbroken effort on the part of the Limbourgs, rather than a project which was completed years later by another artist.

You can see all of the paintings; as well as read about them here;

This is one of the best things about blogging. I am always learning things. When I look up one thing I bump into another. It’s endless; underscoring just how much there is to learn in the short time which we are given to learn anything at all. Now, that’s a sobering thought…

As far as my post about April; there was one part in which I was going to explain how the name represents an “opening”, or “blooming” of a new season. Also, in many Asian countries April 15 is celebrated as the New Year, which coincides with the spring planting. There were lots of other boring things I was going to relate; like the Titanic going down, etc.  But they all paled in comparison to these wonderful paintings which I had never seen before.

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