Les Enluminures

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New Year’s Gifting & the Magi

December 30th, 2021

The new year is a time that has inspired gifting and exchange throughout history in recognition of new beginnings. Yet, the date of New years has moved around frequently as calendars have shifted and it has been celebrated in many different ways. Today, we take a look at some of the different celebrations that occurred in medieval Europe, ending with a quick look at an iconic moment of gifting painted in many Books of Hours: the Adoration of the Magi. What were medieval joyaux and what does Quasimodo have to do with new years celebrations? Find out today on the Les Enluminures podcast. 



Göldene Rössl 

Minnekästchen Casket with Two Lovers 

Thourotte Hours (BOH215) 

Book of Hours by the Master of the Prayerbooks of 1500 (BOH205) 

The Rise of the Black Magus in Western Art 

Medieval Nativity Scenes & Christmas Decorations

December 23rd, 2021

All around the world glittering decorations and lawn sculptures are appearing as December 25th draws near. Have you ever wondered why we associate twinkling lights, holly, or lawn sculptures with Christmas celebrations? Why are animals always included in depictions of the Nativity? Is there a reason the Virgin Mary is often depicted kneeling beside her son right after giving birth? Find out about medieval nativity illuminations, the history of the sculptural crèche and the origins of Christmas decorations today on the Les Enluminures podcast.



Neapolitan Crèche, 18th century, Art Institute of Chicago 

The Hours of Le Goux de La Berchère (Use of Paris)

The Hours of Françoise de Foix 

The Annunciation and Life of the Virgin

December 16th, 2021

Christmas season is upon us and as the day approaches, we will examine a few different, special types of images associated with the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ. Today we discuss the very first major illumination in the hours of the Virgin: the Annunciation. When did annunciation images become so popular? How can these images help us see some of the philosophical debates at the turn of the sixteenth century? A subject particularly concerned with vision, manifestation, and light, how can we see combinations of “Renaissance” and “Gothic” mentalities in the composition of Annunciation paintings? Find out today on the Les Enluminures podcast.  



Book of Hours (Use of Rome) 

The Calcagni Hours (Use of Rome) 

Basic Gemstone Cutting

December 10th, 2021

Today we cover some important jewelry production basics: gemstone cutting or lapidary. Do you know the difference between a cabochon and a raw stone? Why do we continue to use cabochon stones today? And what inspired lapidarists to begin making those iconic, geometric planes we call ‘facets’?  Find out today on the Les Enluminures podcast. 



Byzantine Gemstone Ring set with an Amethyst

Renaissance Marriage Portrait Cameo Ring


Renaissance Pendants, Painting, and Fashion

December 2nd, 2021

Fashion blossomed during the Renaissance with elaborate, fantastical costumes and luxurious jewelry. Today, we take a look at one type of wearable Renaissance artwork; the portrait pendant. What is a pendant? How was the Renaissance concept of fashion different from our own? And who made these luxurious objects? 



Pendant with Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven

Metropolitan Museum of Art Commesso Pendant 


November 24th, 2021

Winter is a time for holiday celebrations, family, and food. As the winter fast approaches in this last November episode we consider feasts and feasting. This was an important topic for medieval people that was frequently the subject of manuscript illumination. What is the origin of the term “feast,” and who could host a feast? What makes ‘feast days’ so important to understanding medieval life? And why did Jesus turn water into wine? Find out today, on the Les Enluminures podcast. 

How to cook a medieval feast: 11 recipes from the Middle Ages 
Hours of Guillaume II Molé (Use of Troyes)
Thourotte Hours (use of Metz)

Sacred Measurements

November 18th, 2021

Medieval measurement developed as a bodily reference tool, often relying on an object’s relationship to the human body to determine its size, scale or weight. Today, measurement may seem like a natural part of our lives, but have you ever wondered how a unit of space or volume was developed? What made medieval measurement so different from the way we conceive of measurement today? And what made measurement sacred to medieval people? 

Time, Daylight, and a November Calendar

November 11th, 2021

Short winter days are now upon us. Usually we don’t consider the actual day to be shortened, however. There may be less daylight, but the measure of the day does not change throughout the year. Why is this? The transition between seasons often makes us more aware of time and the absurd ways we choose to apportion time during the day. Why do we structure our days around dates and increments instead of around feasts and labor? How were days and hours understood in the medieval period? Was time measured differently durring the Middle Ages in comparison to contemporary, “equal” time standards? Find out today, and explore the illumination of a fabulous November calendar page from The Hours of Le Goux de La Berchère. 

The Biography of a Book of Hours

November 4th, 2021

Objects survive long after their original owners have passed away, living an extensive, dramatic, and often colorful life as they pass from owner to owner. This social life is often referred to as an object’s “biography.” Join us today to explore object biography and the life of a special book of hours this week in the Les Enluminures podcast. We will explore the history of a previously unknown and unpublished book of hours.  This manuscript is a discovery that comes to us from Lyons’ Golden Age, one of the most important centers for culture and industry in Europe at the time of its production. The workshop of one of the most important illuminators in the city at the time - the Master of the Entry of Francis I - produced this manuscript which has lived a rather sheltered and prestigious life. Indeed in its rich history it belonged to the great Southern bibliophile, Charles de Baschi, Marquis d’Aubaïs who contributed its elegant binding and armorial bookplates.



Book of Hours by the Workshop of the Master of the Entry of Francis I.

Charms! Spoken spells & manuscript prayers

October 28th, 2021

Life in the Medieval period was difficult, filled with spiritual and physical hardships. Medieval people coped with their often difficult situations through ritual and, sometimes, through magic! In this last episode of October, we return to our text manuscripts to examine charms. What are charms? How do we define them within the spectrum of verbal magic? What is the difference between a charm and an amulet? Find out on this episode of the Les Enluminures Podcast.



Illustrated Textual Amulet TM797

Oratione devotissima (Devotional Prayers)

Amulet Rolls and female devotion in the late Middle Ages 


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