Sunday, 1 April 2018

April Labours: the promise of abundance

These April flowers come from the Labours of the Months series in the famous Rose Window of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It is the work of an intinerant artist from Picardy,  one Peter of Arras,  dated c. 1231-35.

And here I show my ignorance:  is this man bringing spring flowers indoors from the outside to welcome spring, or even to store like herbs in a rather grand cupboard, or is that a window shutter he is opening to show the new clover growing in abundance?   His headdress could be a crown or a garland,  personifying April, holding large bunches of purple trefoil and perhaps alfalfa, or other fodder plant; his gown is also decorated with flower patterns.



Figure of April, from the Rose Window, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Lausanne, Switzerland 

It is a masterly piece of design, interpreting the typical April Labours motif of spring flowers in an unusual style, to suit its ecclesiastic setting.  Notice how his foot brings him outside the circular frame and the sense of movement in the plants and his robes.  

Set in the Cathedral's great Rose window, and its detail not all visible to the naked eye, its christian message seems to read of good husbandry and the promise of abundance.

Today is Easter Sunday in the UK and although some snow is forecast, primroses are blooming at the end of my road.  Happy Easter!

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