Catherine’s Hours

February 12, 2010

The Morgan Library and Museum is having a wonderful exhibit of the illuminated manuscripts from Anne of Cleve’s Book of Hours [online fascimile here].  For those who feel we need to regain our sense of sin, this image at the left might be welcome.  A hellmouth within a hellmouth, within a castle of the dead – and not a pretty sight.

Most of the images are not so gruesome; some are familiar scenes from the New Testament, a few from the Old, and there are many “suffrages,” prayers directed at specific saints whose images are provided.    Below is an image of Saint Lawrence.  Commentary from the museum points out the puckish humor of the artist:

St. Lawrence is framed by a border of eels and fish, beautifully executed in gold and silver foil. The saint holds his attribute, the gridiron upon which he was fried to death. The artist made a playful parallel between Lawrence’s method of martyrdom and the way fish are cooked

The Morgan is currently showing another exhibit called Rome after Raphael – outside of the Cleves exhibit is a space that opens to both of them in which documents and manuscripts relevant to both were displayed.  On my way out, I stopped to take a look at some fine specimens of papal indulgences.