Free Library of Philadelphia


The Castle of Labor

This manuscript, which has been dated to ca. 1430-1440, was previously attributed to a follower of the Bedford Master.

This miniature introduces the fortieth chapter of the allegorical poem La Voie de Povreté ou de Richesse (The Way of Poverty or of Wealth) composed by the French poet Jacques Bruyant in ca. 1342. In this manuscript, the poem is called Le Livre de Chastel de Labour (The Book of the Castle of Labor) and comprises forty-six chapters. It is an allegory of the profits of hard work. The poem concerns Newlywed, as the hero is called, who is visited one night in a dream by Want, Necessity, Suffering, and Hunger. They scold him for not having found work. He is eventually saved by Reason who shows him the paths to a virtuous life. This miniature depicts the Castle of Labor in which workmen labor to construct the castle. In the roundels in the margins are scenes depict labors associated with the four seasons: sowing, reaping, woodcutting, and harvesting grapes.

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