Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Demons and Devotion: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, circa 1440

"The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Dutch illuminated manuscript in the world. Its 157 miniatures are by the gifted Master of Catherine of Cleves (active ca. 1435–60), who is named after this book. The Master of Catherine of Cleves is considered the finest and most original illuminator of the medieval northern Netherlands, and this manuscript is his masterpiece.

The manuscript Catherine commissioned is a prayer book containing an unusually rich series of devotions illustrated with especially elaborate suites of miniatures. The artist's keen sense of observation combined with an interest in everyday objects was a style far ahead of its time (it would come to flower in seventeenth-century Dutch still-life painting). All the miniatures are filled with amazing detail. Narrative was also one of the great talents of the Master of Catherine of Cleves—he could tell a good story. Finally, Catherine's codex is famous for the artist's innovative borders, no two of which are alike."

Manuscript created in Utrecht, The Netherlands, around 1440.
See the rest of the manuscript at The Morgan Library and Museum website.

1 comment:

Luke Farookhi said...

I've always loved the top illustration of the Mouth of Hell, particularly the head-within-a-head idea. Interestingly this image predates Hieronymus Bosch's art by several decades.