Simon Bening: March

A coloured atmosfere for upcoming spring

The calendar page of March derives from a later period of Simon Bening’s work, when landscape and architecture became more dominating in his illustrations. The leaf is part of a small collection of eight calendar pictures (in the British Library: March and June on rectos, December and July verso – four further ones are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The sequence of these miniatures does not allow any conclusion that they were meant for a codex, so they must have been painted by the master to serve as models in his workshop. In this way they were used indeed, which is evident by exact copies bound up at the end of a late 16th century manuscript in the British Library (Add. 24028). This was not unusual within the large production of the highly demanded Bening workshop, where orders, for prayer books in particular, came up to amazing numbers – at the time when book illumination at other places was repressed and many artists changed over to panel painting.