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.
Ms. book of hours for the use of Windesheim; written and illuminated in Utrecht, the Netherlands, ca. 1440; manuscript separated into two or more parts sometime after its creation; brought together again under common ownership in 1970 (M.917 and M.945).
Pierpont Morgan Library. MS M.917, which was paginated by a previous owner, contains 164 leaves; Pierpont Morgan Library. MS M.945 contains 194 leaves.
Decoration: 10 full-page miniatures, 84 half-page miniatures, decorated initials, border decoration, pen flourishes (M.917); 15 full-page miniatures, 48 half-page miniatures, 1 historiated initial, decorated initials; almost all text pages have elaborate border decoration and pen flourishes (M.945).
Artist: Master of Catherine of Cleves.