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The Hours of Catherine of Cleves [Hardcover]

John Plummer

RRP: 29.95
Price: 27.14 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1999
When the magnificent volume first appeared in 1966, it was celebrated for its extraordinary beauty. Now, more than thirty years since its first publication, it is made available once again. Illustrating one of the great art treasures of the world, The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is a fiteenth century illuminated manuscript containing a series of some of the most beautiful illustrations of the bible ever made. Many of the great scenes form the Old Testament and many more from the New Testament are included, besides the Stations of the Cross and portraits of the saints. The work of an unidentified Dutch master painter, the manuscript was made for Catherine of Cleves on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of Guelders. All the 157 surviving miniatures are reproduced to actual size and in exquisite colour with gold, together with three samples of pages containing the Latin prayers. Page after page reveals the elaborate program and rich illumination of the original. The progression from beginning to end shows an artist increasing in skill, relying in his earlier work on tradition and later emerging as an independent artist of bold, clear colours, dynamic brushwork and lively imagination. He stands as one of the supreme painters of fifteenth century Northern Europe. Each page is accompanied by a descriptive and explanatory commentary by John Plummer. His introduction discusses the development of the Book of Hours as a liturgical form in general, and the history of the Cleves Hours specifically, and describes the place it holds in the history of Northern Painting.


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About the Author

John Plummer is a former curator and Research Fellow Emeritus at the Pierpont Morgan Library. He has taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton universities and was appointed Professor Emeritus of Medieval Art History at Princeton University in 1985. His publications include Old Testament Miniatures (with Sydney C. Cockerell) and The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, from American Collections.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but less than ideal 23 Oct 2009
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The local museum in my city currently has a hundred pages from this magnificent book on loan from the Pierpont Morgan Library. With the real thing so freshly imprinted on the mind, this reprint from the 1960s cannot but disappoint. The picture resolution is insufficient to allow the viewer to discern the very tiniest details, and overall the colours are too saturated, at times even somewhat harsh, compared to the freshness, brilliance and translucency of the originals. Sometimes this, too, goes at the expense of detail; e.g., in the Trinity in an Apse (nr. 32) the border around the image seems to consist of crude red onionshapes; it is only from reading the accompanying text that the viewer will know that these actually contain depictions of angels: the orange angels are invisible against the red. Also, the paper on which the artwork was painted appears almost yellow in this reprint, whereas in the book itself it is near-white. Don't expect too much either from the gold detailing mentioned in the editorial review above; gold is reproduced as a kind of beige with a slight shine to it, but obviously doesn't come close to the glittering sparkle (and doesn't even try to emulate the relief) of the original's gold leaf. (Still, the effect is much better than the awful reddish brown found in the horrible edition of the Duc de Berry's Tres Riches Heures from this same publisher.)

But all that said, there is no alternative to this book if you want to really get to know Catherine's Hours (unless you are a very determined and very rich collector and want to go for the new limited-edition facsimile that a Swiss publisher is coming out with - it has a whopping 14.000 dollar price tag, and even that version doesn't quite match the original, as I found out when I perused a copy on view at the museum). This is a well-made, heavy little volume that offers more than enough to give you a fair impression of these dazzling miniatures, and even if it is far from perfect, that will hardly mar your enjoyment of this Master's inventive borders, where surprising and sometimes funny little scenes from daily life contrast with the more serious religious matter they frame. Also, some decorative work involving muscles and butterflies is quite stunning in its realism. But there is room for an affordable modern reprint of this gem. Until that comes along, do grasp the opportunity to see the original pages when they are on view!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars famous book of hours beautifully presented 9 Sep 2009
By Ivor E. Zetler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This beautiful and richly illustrated book of hours was made for Catherine of Cleves on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of Guelders. It was created around 1440 in Holland by an unknown artist. The illustrations are of biblical scenes;the latter 56 pages are suffrages with illustrations of various saints. It is unusual to find a book of hours that is so liberally illustrated.

The first section of this book contains a useful and informative introductory essay. Following this, there are 160 color ilustrations (in the original size)with a brief commentary by the author.

This book was originally released in 1966 and is now reissued at a very reasonable price. While I cannot claim to have seen the original manuscript, the colors of the reproductions, while quite acceptable, are somewhat hard and unnatural. Otherwise this is a beautifully produced book that will give great pleasure to fans of illuminated manuscripts.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great art work, but no translation 29 Sep 2006
By jizbsu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
considering this small book is printed at the orignal scale, the details are astonishing. the printing quality delievers the art work right to your hands. it is a superb full color reproduction. the introdution is an indepth study of the history of the two original copies and the process of reconstruction of the book. the related history, manuscript making of the time are well studied.

however, the published book does not translate the Latin text in to any language i can understand. but, i guess, the text is just explaining what the picture is, which the editor always gave a longer explaination paragraph for every picture in the book, in modern eyes.

this is one of the best reproduced manuscript available today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars illuminated plates 28 Oct 2011
By hypathia0077 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book of hours is full of beautiful illuminated pages that illastrate the detailed manuscrips of the historical period. A wonderful addition to a collection of Books of Hours.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 16 Mar 2010
By Richard Mowbray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recreate period manuscripts for a reenacting group. This jewel is a great source. Simply beautiful!
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