Search collection catalog »
E-NEWS Facebook logo Twitter logo Google logo YouTube
TheMorgan
Current

Upcoming

Online

Past
 

Demons and Devotion: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves

Catherine of Cleves image

This digital facsimile provides reproductions of all 157 miniatures (and facing text pages) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The original one-volume prayer book had been taken apart in the nineteenth century; the leaves were shuffled and then rebound into two confusing volumes. This presentation offers the miniatures in their original, fifteenth-century sequence.

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.

Who Was Catherine of Cleves?

Catherine of Cleves (1417–1476) is known for two things: her Book of Hours and her protracted political battle against her husband. In 1430 she married Arnold of Egmond (1410 –1473), becoming duchess of Guelders. Although she bore her husband six children, the marriage was not happy. By 1440 Catherine refused to live with him.

War between husband and wife was sparked by Arnold's disinheriting his only living son, Adolf (1438–1477; rumor had it that Adolf accused his father of homosexuality). Catherine's siding with her son in the conflict led to anarchy. The cities of Nijmegen, Zutphen, and Arnhem supported Catherine and her son; Roermond sided with the duke. In 1465 mother and son imprisoned Arnold, forcing him to abdicate. Adolf, as duke, spent six years in ceaseless struggles with his father's supporters.

In 1471 Catherine watched in horror as Arnold secured his freedom and regained his title while Adolf was imprisoned. Arnold died in 1473, disinheriting both wife and son. Catherine's death in 1476 robbed her seeing the release of her son. Adolf's liberty was short-lived; he died the next year.

Begin digital facsimile »

Top of page


© The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, (212) 685-0008

Home Museum »
Visit the Museum
Exhibitions
Calendar
Public Programs
Education
Collection »
Collection highlights
Online Exhibitions
Music Manuscripts Online
Conservation
The Drawing Institute
Multimedia
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research »
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research Services
Reading Room
Research Guides
The Drawing Institute
Photography & Rights
About »
Press
History of the Morgan
The Morgan Campus
Employment
Internships
Volunteer
Support »
Membership
Make a Donation
Corporate Membership
Corporate Entertaining
Shop Contact

E-News | Site Index | Terms and Conditions


The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.