Saturday, November 28, 2009

Special Exhibition at The Morgan Library: "Demons and Devotion"

January 22-May 2, 2010
The Hours of Catherine of Cleves , a 15th century Dutch Book of Hours ,will star in a unique exhibition at the Morgan Library,in whose collection the illuminated manuscript is permanently housed.
from Wikipedia on the Hours of Catherine

Books of Hours were fashionable prayer books widely used by the privileged laity in the later Middle Ages. Often, women who were members of a royal court, or of the rising merchant class received these objects commissioned for them as gifts. For the lucky few who possessed them, a book of hours might encourage a personal communion with God and the Virgin Mary by allowing an individual silent reading of scripture, including the liturgy of the Mass, (which previously had been restricted to the clergy). The cult of the Virgin had reached its height at this time (13th -15th c).
In the late medieval Christian world in the West, each hour of the day was intimately linked to the life and passion of Christ. With their small books held closely in hand, devotees could worship privately, marking each spiritual and temporal transition with special prayers and images.
In general, the number of images, their elaboration and intricacy, (the more gold leaf, etc.) meant the more expensive the book. A royal patron such as Catherine of Cleves would have the finest scribes and illuminators working for her. Production of books of hours, their workshops, and their routes of commerce, along with other manuscript production and trade, was extensive throughout Europe by the 15th century.
Time Sanctified:The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life
Painted Prayers: The Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art
by Roger S. Wieck
A History of Illuminated Manuscripts

Books of Hours