Book of Hours Catherine of Cleves
BOOK OF HOURS CATHERINE OF CLEVES
On 24 January 1430 Catherine of Cleves, then thirteen years old, married Duke Arnold of Guelders. On the occasion of the marriage her father presented her with a prayer book that had been illustrated – illuminated – by a master whose name we do not know.
Around 1460 the workshop of this same master, who was later dubbed the ‘Master of Catherine of Cleves’ by A.W. Byvanck, manufactured what is known as a book of hours, a prayer book for the laity. It was supplied with a beautiful leather binding by the Bruges bookbinder Anthonius de Gavere. In the second half of the 18th century it was owned by Sara Ploos van Amstel. In 1964, with the financial support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, it was bought by the Museum Meermanno from an antiquarian bookseller in New York.
Little is known about the Master of Catherine of Cleves. He probably worked in Utrecht. For the production of this book of hours he was assisted by the well-known Ghent book illuminator Lieven van Lathem, who had temporarily fled to Utrecht.
It is assumed that this is one of the last works illuminated by the Master of Catherine of Cleves. His work is greatly admired, and his attention to detail and his predilection for anecdotal features is highly praised. This latter characteristic is manifest in numerous ‘drolleries’ from daily life: musicians, bakers shoving loaves of bread into the oven, scholars wearing glasses, scribes with goose quills and a lot of men and women eating and drinking.
Originally the manuscript contained six additional full-page miniatures, one at the beginning of each hour. Only three of these have survived. It also contains innumerable small initials. On the verso of page 13 we see a miniature depicting Mary with the Christ Child. The two kneeling figures beside her represent the couple that commissioned this manuscript. They were probably members of the Utrecht van Lochorst family.