A Book of Hours was a common possession among the very well-to-do in the late Middle Ages. The “Hours” in question were those of the offices of the Church: a book such as this was a kind of devotional almanac giving the texts of the services, and sometimes, as in this case, informing the owner of the events, social and agricultural, of the different seasons, and the progress of the constellations with the signs of the Zodiac.

It was something the owner could carry around as an intimate personal possession and was precious not only for its spiritual value but often also for its physical beauty. Some of the most accomplished artists of the time lavished their talents on these books, and the Limbourg brothers count among the finest of all.

They came from Nijmegen in the Netherlands and trained as artists and draughtsmen in Paris. They were drawn into the entourage of Jean de France, Duc de Berri, and so became closely involved in the splendid culture of the Burgundian kingdom that dominated the Low Countries and Eastern France at the time when the High Renaissance was beginning to establish itself in Italy.