Time and the Flower: Significant Images of the Passage of Time in the Floral Borders of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves
By Elizabeth R. Schaeffer
Essays in Medieval Studies, Vol.6 (1989)
Introduction: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, produced in the Netherlands c.1440-45, is one of the most beautiful and complex illuminated manuscript of the late Middle Ages. The originality of the Artist of the Floral Borders in his symbolic use of floral images in the borders of the manuscript is remarkable. For example, in the Hours of the Virgin and the Hours of the Cross, he used the rose, violet, pea, artemisia, physalis, pink, fumitory, calendula, vinca, daffodil, columbine, strawberry, bindweed, nightshade, and a crucifer in borders that relate to scenes of the life of the Virgin and the Passion of Christ. Not only had many of these images never been seen in illumination before, those taken from conventional iconography were charged and extended to emphasize their meanings in very novel ways.