• Holland, The Hague, c. 1395–1400
  • Parchment, 283 fls.
  • Inv. LA148

Hours of Margaret of Cleves

Made for Margaret of Cleves (1375–1412), the wife of Albert, duke of Bavaria, this Book of Hours was donated in the owner’s memory to the Convent of Schönensteinbach, in Upper Alsace, according to an inscription at the end of the manuscript.

The Hours of Margaret of Cleves with prayers and texts for private devotions contains a Calendar, the Hours of the Virgin, the Short Hours of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Penitential Psalms the Litany of the Saints and, finally, the Office of the Dead. These texts are illuminated with eleven full-page miniatures framed by margins with exuberant floral decoration.

The first of these miniatures portrays a young noblewoman, probably Margaret of Cleves, praying before the Virgin and Child, in a scene where parts of Mary’s throne and mantle overlap the frame of the scene, establishing a close link between the profane world and the divine world.

This book occupies a central position in the artistic culture of the time as it testifies to the role played by court patrons in its production and, mainly, to the innovative characteristics the painter, known as the ‘Master of Margaret of Cleves’ introduced into his miniatures.

Margaret of Cleves; Schönenstein Convent, Alsacia, after 1411; Mme de Cauly, 1879; Damascène Morgand library, Paris, 1890; Mme Poulier-Ketele. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Henri Leclerc, from J. & A. Le Roy Frères, Brussels, 15–17 May 1924 (lot 8).

H. 12.9/13.2 cm; W. 9.3/9.6 cm 

Marrow 1995

James H. Marrow, As Horas de Margarida de Cleves / The Hours of Margaret of Cleves. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1995.

New York 1999

Katharine Baetjer and James David Draper (eds.), 'Only the Best'. Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, exhibition catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 34–5, cat. 13.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 88, cat. 64.

Updated on 08 june 2022

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