Medieval Art: April in Les Tres Riche Heures

April. In France, it signals the regreening of the world, as long dormant nature begins its annual cycle of regeneration. A time for celebration and renewal of hope. In the tympanum are shown the astrological symbols for the month, the ram and the bull. In the center, Phoebus is shown in his golden chariot following the course of the sun into Taurus.

The April page for Les Tres Riches Heures is set in the village below the Duc de Berry’s chateau at Dourdan, across the river Orge. The row of trees on the fore side of the river mimics the shape of the towers of the chateau. Richly dressed figures cluster in the foreground, while two young women pick violets from the grass, a traditional subject for April. A walled garden, coming back to life, is depicted, probably as a symbol of virginity. A scene of betrothal occupies the center, where the soon-to-be-married couple stand with (probably her) parents for the presentation of the ring. They appear to be noble, judging from their fine robes. It is believed that the scene may memorialize a real event, though there is some dispute about who the couple may be.

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