Medieval manuscripts

February from Walters MS. W.425

Image from Walters Museum MS. W.425, fol 2r from the February calendar showing two men one splitting wood one trimming a stump.
Walters Art Museum, W.425, fol 2r, © 2011 Walters Art Museum, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
ca. 1520–30 Brussels (?)

This image from the Walters Art museum fragmentary prayer book MS. 425 f. 2r shows the February calendar with a short list of the saint’s days in February, and in the border on the right, a roundel that the Walter’s description says is Pisces, which is exactly what one would expect, but the image is very worn, suggesting that the ms. was actually used.

The February calendar image in Walters MS. W.425 shows a typical labor for February; an outdoor scene of two men cutting wood, a common labor for the month in colder climates.

One of the men on the right is using a wedge in a log that is propped on another log lying on the ground, and hitting the wedge with a wooden maul. There are two small neat stacks of wook near him. The man on the left is trimming the branches from a stump, with a knife that looks very much like the modern knives used to trim vines and cut grapes. At his feet a bundle of think branches is neatly tied, ready to be carried away.

Both men are clothed for cold weather, with layers, and warm hats to cover their ears. The man on the left trimming the stump wears a scarf under his hat and around his neck. His companion on the right splitting the log has a hat with earflaps, and gloves or mittens. The men are standing in a small fenced area with a gate behind them. The trees in the area and those beyond all appear to be pollards, trees whose lower limbs have been removed for fire wood. The upper branches of the trees are winter-bare. Beyond the wood-cutters the hills are lightly dusted with snow.

Detail from Walters MS. W.425 fol. 2r showing two men cutting wood, one trimming a stump the other splitting a log with a maul and wedge.


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