Hours of Catherine of Cleves

MS M. 917 und MS M. 945 - Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)

Alternate Titles:

Stundenbuch der Katharina von Kleve

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Stundenbuch der Katharina von Kleve

Type
Extent / Format

714 pages / 19.1 x 13.0 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1430
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Catherine of Cleves (1417 - 1479)

Artist / School

Master of Catherine of Cleves (from the van Aken family of painters?) and probably two assistants

Illustrations

157 half- and full-page miniatures. The margins are magnificently decorated with an extraordinary attention to detail

Former owners

Ermengard of Lochhorst
Jacques Joseph Techener
H. P. Kraus (New York)
Baron Maurice de Rothschild

Short description

This privately owned 1430 Devotional and Prayer Book from Catherine of Cleves gives this manuscript an exciting and artistically high-grade illumination originating from the 15th century. Concealed behind a small book cover (only 19.1 x 13 cm) are 714 parchment pages with gorgeous pictures, which even today are rich in detail and are true to the environment of the 15th century.

Facsimile editions available

Description

The Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves (Around 1430)

This privately owned 1430 Devotional and Prayer Book from Catherine of Cleves gives this manuscript an exciting and artistically high-grade illumination originating from the 15th century. Concealed behind a small book cover (only 19.1 x 13 cm) are 714 parchment pages with gorgeous pictures, which even today are rich in detail and are true to the environment of the 15th century.

The Golden Era of Flemish Art

This especially gorgeous and affectionately made Book of Hours is curious as it has a still yet unknown patron, yet speculation points towards Catherine of Cleves (1417-1479) since she is depicted at the beginning of the book in a miniature painting (fol. 1 verso). Her name is in connection to the powerful Burgundian Duke, whom she is related to from her mother’s father Johann Ohnefurcht, as well as the Rhineland-Westfallen Duchy of Cleves, over which her father Adolf II ruled as Duke. Due to her marriage with** Arnold von Egmond, the Duke of Geldern** and the Baron von Zutphen, she was displaced from her sphere of action in the Netherlands, which was the center of art in the early 15th century.
Through the assignment of this existing manuscript, her patronage was the cornerstone for this authoritative work of the late-middle-ages in the Netherlands. The unknown, unnamed “Master of the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves” utilized not only trends from important works from his predecessors, as from the important Book of Hours of Maria of Burgundy, but also was influenced by current trends of artists of his time.

Unknown Artist, Stunning Work

The miniatures of the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves distinguish themselves especially through surprising picture concepts, with well-established depictions that are exciting and rich in detail. No further example is needed than the 157 miniatures of the book that are entire page scenes, with a strong richness and an artistic composition that stands out amongst panel painting in the 1500s. Next to them are a plurality of half-page miniatures as well as small, lovingly painted scenes on the edges of the paper, showing real life pictures of the late Middle Ages interwoven with depictions of Saints, which is typical of Devotional Prayer books of this time. All of this is naturally framed with ornamental emblazonment, which appears to be the signature of this unknown artist who crafted the book. Any viewer will surely be amazed by the nearly 600 years of gorgeous pictures being depicted, which will sure cast a spell on the heart of any manuscript enthusiast.

The Traveling Manuscript

Plus the ever changing history of this Book of Hours underlines its meaning. For example, in the late 19th Century the book was** parted into two equal sized pieces and sold** to private collections in 1963 and in 1970 again to the New Yorker Pierpont Morgan Library, where they were reunited together. Back in its original condition, the manuscript offers the possibility of witnessing the world of Catherine of Cleves through the magnificent pictures and illustrations of an unknown Dutch master artist.

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