Friday 4 February 2011

Grisaille and paperwork

'Grisaille' is a term which is familiar to us from working on medieval stained glass--of which there is plenty in York. The famous '5 Sisters' window in York Minster's North Transept is an outstanding example of this type of glass. Created in 1260, it is made up of 5 very large lancets. The glass used in the groundwork is grey-ish white; hence the term 'Grisaille'.

detail of the 5 Sisiters Window;  copyright York Minster
 It comes of course from the French word for greyness--which is exactly the weather we are having at the moment. Everything seems blanketed by a layer; sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner of grey cloud. Even at its thinnest the sun can't quite break through. Earlier in the week we also had some mist or low level fog as an added 'treat'. It seems it is all to do with high pressure systems which sit over the centre of France where we are. The only positive is for the most part it doesn't rain. If it did the Scots word 'driech', which beautifully describes the grey lowering skies which pour down a steady drenching rain would fit the bill. 

The grey weather seemed an appropriate time to do some admin. Part of the admin meant filling in census forms. In France they take a census every year selecting a different sample of the population each time and this year we are part of the sample. In the UK it is done once every 10 years, but then everyone takes part. Antoinette also needs to renew her passport--so more forms and photos. 

February, Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc du Berry
On Wednesday we dropped in at the Mairie to hand in our census forms and passport photos of an appropriate size were taken yesterday, Thursday:--every country's photo requirements are different as we know!! The UK measurements are different to the US ones, and both are different yet again to the Dutch ones and the French ones are again different; so we went to a photographer in Loches armed with detailed information as to exactly what The Netherlands requires. Next Tuesday sees us off to Paris for the passport--you have to apply in person.

Les Tres Riches Heures du duc du Berry are a marvellous contrast to grisaille. Each illumination in this fantastic book of hours (daily devotions) created in the early 15th century by the brothers Limbourg is a riot of colour and gold leaf.  They are housed in the Musee de Conde, Chateau de Chantilly north of Paris. The blue is just amazing (lapis lazuli). Just wish our skies were that colour!


GaynorB said...

So do I! It has rained all day here. Colours and illustrations are wonderful.

I have taken your advice of a couple of weeks ago on the correct French, and Jean has explained how to change my blog address so it is now


Niall & Antoinette said...

Just caught up with your posts on the new blog address...catching isn't it :-)? look forward to reading more.

Illuminations are wonderful aren't they? Have been lucky to see and handle some lovely ones 'in the flesh' as it were and they never cease to amaze.