9 Jean, Duc de Berry; Maecenas of France 

 

How long the Van Limburg brothers remained in Dijon is unclear, but it is shown from documents that in 1408 they had already been for some time in the service of Duke John of Berry, a brother of the deceased Philip. Such 'transfers' of talented artist were not unusual. The works of Paul van Limburg and his brothers have gained fame under the French name of this royal patron - Jean de France, Duc de Berry.

The Duc de Berry (1340 - 1416) was not just any nobleman. He was son, brother and guardian of three successive French kings. He looked upon a large part of Central France as his personal property. Because of his position, he could not avoid the great conflicts of his time: the Hundred-Years War with the English, the internal power struggle in France itself and the Schism which divided Western Christendom. In all of these conflicts he played a conciliatory role, but especially in the last ten years of his life he led a turbulent existence. This did not stop him from devoting himself until his death to his greatest passion, collecting art and artists. The duke of Berry was a born collector. He had an insatiable curiosity and a desire to own everything which stimulated him, exotic animals, curiosities, relics (including a drop of milk from Virgin Mary's breast) and valuable jewels. But his greatest love was that for books. He owned a formidable collection for those times. As Maecenas of France, he recognized Paul van Limburg's talent, took him on, gave him many assignments and rewarded him in gold, jewels, a little palace and an eight-year-old bride - all with the aim of holding on to the talent.

 

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