MS M.917/945, pp. 150–151

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Holy Family at Supper

The Netherlands, Utrecht
ca. 1440
7 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches (192 x 130 mm)

Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963

MS M.917/945, pp. 150–151

Nearly as delightful as the previous miniature is this one showing the Holy Family taking sustenance. Humbly seated on the floor, Mary, as the Virgo lactans, gives suck to the Christ Child. Joseph spoons his supper while seated in a barrel chair. The background is filled with an abundance of home furnishings: a shelf of pewter plates, a pair of shears, a bellows, a wood cabinet with food and dishes, and a rack of utensils. The cylindrical fireplace contains steaming pots, tongs, and a grill. Note the delicacy with which the Cleves Master rendered the wisps of smoke.

Hours and Masses for the Seven Days of the Week

The most unusual texts in Catherine's manuscript are the series of Hours and Masses for every day of the week. Medieval Christian tradition associated certain figures or themes with different days. Thus Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, was the Lord's Day; Thursday was connected with the Eucharist since that sacrament was instituted on Holy Thursday; and Monday was the day of the dead, since their torments were suspended on Sunday but recommenced the following day. In Catherine's prayer book, the themes for the Hours and Masses of the seven days of the week are:

Sunday the Trinity
Monday the Dead
Tuesday the Holy Spirit
Wednesday All Saints
Thursday the Blessed Sacrament
Friday the Compassion of God
Saturday the Virgin.

Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern