Fall of the angels

Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, fol. 64v

Around 1400 the visual arts were completely dominated by the Soft Style, which is also known as the international Gothic style, a last triumph of courtly life at the close of the Middle Ages.

Using noble blue, accompanied by a touch of green and flaming red, and a gold that the artists used to great effect, the brothers, who all died in their early thirties of the pest, still took time to paint their vision of the beginning of the world, a symbol of God’s justice and a warning example for every devout individual.

The picture has a magical touch. Instead of describing the rigours of the day, the experience of war and civil strife, the artists design a cosmic narrative. Their colours and forms, however, remain fully within the realm of art. The narrative of God’s counsel seems to have appeared too holy and powerful for them and their own experiences on earth did not seem worthy enough to be depicted.

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