Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Twelth Night - The Bean King

Twelfth Night, the evening before Epiphany (January 6 - when the biblical kings reached the newborn Christ Child), was a final frenzy of Christmas feasting, drinking & raucous merry making before the community returned to its daily working grind for the rest of the winter.
Jacob Jordaens, The Bean King. 1635-55.

In medieval & Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween. The Lord of Misrule symbolized the world turning upside down. On this day the King & all those who were high would become the peasants & vice versa. At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean & perhaps a pea was eaten. The male who found the bean would rule the feast as a king. Midnight signaled the end of his rule, & the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition dates back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain & the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. In some places, particularly south-western England, Old Twelfth Night is celebrated on 17 January. This continues the custom on the date determined by the old Julian calendar. In England, the lord of the manor was charged with the solemn responsibility of providing the Twelfth Night cakes for his tenant families. This usually informal practice achieved the status of law at the village of North Curry, Somerset, in 1314.
Jacob Jordaens, The Bean King. ca. 1640-45

Dancing, clowning, & consuming prodigious quantities of liquor and food, the celebrants followed the practice of crowning one of themselves "king" to rule over the 12th Night's celebrations. Those who donned the crown were also expected to treat their fellow revelers to a round of drinks. During the Renaissance, some of the most splendid feasts of the Christmas season occurred at the homes of the wealthy on Twelfth Night. In England King Henry VIII (1491-1547) appears to have introduced the Italian custom of celebrating Twelfth Night with masques. These elaborate costumed events featured the enactment of some simple scenes or tableaux using song, dance, flowery speeches, & fancy scenery. The masques performed at court were short, simple, & sometimes frivolous works designed to raise as much laughter as possible while providing a colorful spectacle. These productions were very popular during the Christmas season, but they were also performed at other times of year. The famous writer Ben Jonson (1572-1637) offered a Christmas masque - Christmas His Masque - to be performed at court in the year 1616. In England the Twelfth Night masque reached its zenith in the early 17C and then began to decline.
Jan Miense Molenaer (1610-1668) Twelfth Night 1660

At some point, this tradition gave rise to the creation of the "12th Night Cake" or the "King Cake" (after the Biblical kings) -- an often-ornate confection into which a bean, a coin or a tiny carved or cast metal version of the Baby Jesus was placed. In English & French custom, the Twelfth-cake was baked to contain a bean and a pea, so that those who received the slices containing them should be designated king & queen of the night's festivities. During early evening ceremonies, the cake was cut and its pieces distributed to guests who were advised to chew carefully. The person who found the icon then became the king or queen of 12th Night. Sometimes the designated king of the festivities was called the Bean King.
The King Drinks

Samuel Pepys recorded a party in London on Epiphany night, 6 January 1659/1660, & described the role the cake played in the choosing of a "King" & "Queen" for the occasion: "...to my cousin Stradwick, where, after a good supper, there being there my father, mothers, brothers, & sister, my cousin Scott & his wife, Mr. Drawwater & his wife, & her brother, Mr. Stradwick, we had a brave cake brought us, & in the choosing, Pall was Queen & Mr. Stradwick was King. After that my wife & I bid adieu & came home, it being still a great frost." The choosing of King & Queen from the pie, usually by the inclusion of a bean & a pea, was a traditional English 12th Night festivity. The cake was called a "12th Cake", "Twelfth-night cake", or "Twelfth-tide cake."
Twelfth Night - Jan Steen -1662

By the late 18C in England and America, the selection of 12th Night's "royalty" was also alternately accomplished by the distribution of paper slips with each piece of cake. The slips were opened and the person holding the one with a special mark inside was declared king. Some believe this paper ballot tradition was instituted as a matter of safety to prevent often-inebriated & distracted guests from inadvertently choking to death on hard beans, coins or a cast metal Jesus hidden in wads of cake.
Twelfth Night (The King Drinks) by David Teniers c. 1634-1640

Traditionally, groups of family & friends may have "king cake parties" through the Carnival season between Epiphany & the day before Lent. In Portugal & France, whoever gets the King cake trinket is expected to buy the next cake for these get-togethers.
Twelfth Night, Jan Steen, 1668

The King Cake is a popular food item during the Christmas season (Christmas Eve to Epiphany) in Belgium, France, Quebec & Switzerland (galette or gâteau des Rois or galette des rois), Portugal (bolo rei), Spain, & Spanish America (roscón or rosca de reyes & tortell in Catalonia), Greece & Cyprus (vasilopita) & Bulgaria (banitsa).
Twelfth Night or 'The King Drinks' - Peter Paul Rubens

In the United States, Carnival is traditionally observed in the Southeastern region of the country, particularly in New Orleans, Saint Louis, Mobile, Pensacola, Galveston, & other towns & cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In this region, the king cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras traditions & is served throughout the Carnival season, from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday.
Le gâteau des Rois, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1774

Related traditions are the tortell of Catalonia; the gâteau des Rois or reiaume in Provence; or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, & the Greek & Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry & frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche & candied fruits). The gâteau des Rois is known as Rosca de Reyes in Mexico.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Getting Ready to Watch a New Year Fly By - 1490 Grimani Breviary

Grimani Breviary The Month of January 1490-1510

Okay, I plead guilty. I know that this manuscript would be particularly appealing to a garden & landscape historian.  And that is precisely why I am posting it here & hoping for a brighter & kinder 2021. BWS

The Grimani Breviary is an illuminated manuscript of the Ghent-Bruges school of book illustration, dating from 1490-1510. It contains 831 parchment sheets with illuminations on 1280 pages and 110 pictures all of them in a decorated frame. The miniatures represent different styles, are attributed to Hans Memling, while others to Alexander and Simon Bening (1483-1561). The name comes from Cardinal Grimani of Venice, who purchased this illuminated manuscript in 1520 for 500 golden ducates.
Grimani Breviary The Month of February 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of March 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of April 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of May 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of June 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of July 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of August 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of September 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of October 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of November 1490-1510
Grimani Breviary The Month of December 1490-1510

Friday, January 1, 2021

Kings Still on Their Journey - Procession of Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian, c 1421–1497)

Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter, c 1421–1497) Scenes from the Procession of the Magi Young, Detail of the Young King on wall of Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God.  To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany as the arrival of the 3 kings at the birthplace of Jesus (The Adoration of the Magi) 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally, Eastern Christian churches celebrated Epiphany (or Theophany) in conjunction with Christ's baptism by John the Baptist on January 19th.  Some Protestant churches celebrate Epiphany as an entire religious season, extending from Christmas Day until Ash Wednesday.
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497) Scenes from the Procession of the Magi,  Detail of the Middle King on South wall of Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497) Scenes from the Procession of the Magi, Detail of the  Old King on west wall of the Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497) Detail from the Procession of the Young King, Scenes from the Procession of the Magi Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497)  Detail from the Procession of the Middle King, Scenes from the Procession of the Magi Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497) Detail from the Procession of the Youngest King, Scenes from the Procession of the Magi Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62
Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian early Renaissance painter,  c 1421–1497) Scenes from the Procession of the Magi Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence 1459-62

Illuminated Manuscripts - Telling the Shepherds of Jesus' Birth

Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds Unknown; c 1475-1480

One of my favorite Christmas stories is the annunciation to the lowly shepherds of the birth of the baby Christ child. Whom did the angels tell first? The community's outcasts, including some women working with the wool, who lived in the countryside year-round with dogs & sheep. And Mary welcomed them to visit her new baby. Only later did the important nobles arrive. The common man came first, and these lovely little illustrations imagine the stunned herders hearing the news.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation To The Shepherds By Meister Der Reich.Shepherds South Cross, County Tipperary, Ireland. 8C
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds who are making music while the dog howls and the woman works with the wool. Sheep and their tenders are in an enclosure.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds who include a woman and a man getting dressed.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds Bean MS1 - Folio 45l Shepherds here include a woman.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds Bean MS2 - Folio 75l Shepherds with their dogs and pipes.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds comes from a 15th-century Flemish Book of Hours in the collection of Glencairn Museum (07.MS.639). Shepherds & their dog looking up at the angels.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds Folio 52r from Les Belles Heures du Duc de Berry. The shepherds were sleeping in the field when angels appeared and told them of the birth of Jesus.Van Limburg brothers 1375 – 1416 The dog in this image is resting.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds from a French Book of Hours (c.1425-50) The woman works with the wool while the dog looks up at the angels.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds from Prayers (England, S. E. (St Albans), c1240) shelfmark Arundel 157 f.3v.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds London BL - Royal 2 B VII fol-112
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds These shepherds are warming themselves by a fire while their dog rests.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds Simon Marmion (circa 1425–1489) Shepherds complete with dog and pipes.

Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds, book of hours (Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevive in Paris. This image shows another female tending the sheep.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds Here a woman, two dogs, and three shepherds are visited by angels.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds Another dog and shepherds playing pipes rest while sheep are in an enclosure.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds 15C Book of Hours.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds Gavin Hill MS 1 - Folio 57v-l Here the shepherd's dog seems to be intrigued by the angel.
Illuminated Manuscript Annunciation to the Shepherds Book of Hours of Henry VIII Here the gentlemen play their pipes, while the astounded woman gazes upward.
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds MS6, Syracuse University Library
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds Royal 1 D X f.1v
Illuminated ManuscriptAnnunciation to the Shepherds