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Between and Mortarboard

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Baking Bread, Labor of the Month for December

Accession Number

Baking Bread, Labor of the Month for December

Jean de Court, called Vigier

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support

4 in x 3 3/10 in x ⅛ in (10.16 cm x 8.41 cm x 0.32 cm);4 in x 3 3/10 in x ⅛ in (10.16 cm x 8.41 cm x 0.32 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The art of enamel enjoyed a long history in the city of Limoges in central France, beginning in the mid-twelfth century, when the city first emerged as a commercial center of enamel production. The brilliant, jewel-like qualities of enamel are created by fusing a glass or vitreous substance onto a prepared metal ground in a kiln, a technique that could be applied to a broad range of objects. This piece probably decorated the rim of a dish and depicts bakers at work. The tranquil scene once accompanied eleven other roundels that portrayed a different labor for each month. Although no indication of the represented month appears in this piece, other closely related works reveal that it stands for December. Whereas medieval Limoges enamels—examples of which are on view across the gallery— employed bright, vivid colors, enamels of the mid-sixteenth century, such as this piece, were typically rendered in tones of grey, or grisaille. To create this appearance, translucent white layers of enamel were applied over a dark ground to create a range of silvery tones that lent a subtle luminosity.

Subject matter
This enamel roundel, which probably decorated a piece of tableware, depicts a baker arranging bread in his oven while two women prepare more loaves behind him. This tranquil scene of baking once accompanied eleven other roundels, each portraying a different labor representative of one of the months of the year. Although no indication of the particular month appears in this enamel, other closely related works reveal that it represents December.

Physical Description
This enamel roundel depicts three figures in an interior. In the foreground a man with a soft pointed cap maneuvers small round loaves of bread in an oven with a long wooden paddle. Behind him a woman with an elaborate headdress and another figure prepare more loaves for baking. The silvery gray tones of this grisaille enamel impart the scene with a subtle luminosity.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

Collection Area

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bake ovens (baking devices)
enamels (visual works)
interior spaces (spaces by location)

& Author Notes

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