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Book of Flower Studies
by Master of Claude de France
ca. 1510–1515
Purchase, The Cloisters Collection, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, and Rogers Fund, 2019
Episode 10 / 2019
First Look

One by one, a flower takes center stage; the fava bean and the dandelion debut as equals of the rose."

Page after page, The Met Cloisters' Flower Studies leads us through a gate and into the garden. With each sheet of this exceptionally refined and rare manuscript, the Master of Claude de France's paintings celebrate the garden's rhythms. The simple joy and the astounding beauty of flowers are bound in a single volume.

One by one, a flower takes center stage; the fava bean and the dandelion debut as equals of the rose. Many of these flowers had long-recognized practical uses in medicine or cooking. Here, though, the artist simply glories in their beauty. He paints their portraits, contriving to show them at once from the front, from the back, from the side, as they bud and bloom and as they fade into senescence. In this bound bouquet, created long before tulip mania swept Europe, "garden variety" flowers are silent muses, sources of inspiration for the artist. That same notion has informed the planting of gardens at The Met Cloisters, where this manuscript is on view, since its opening in 1938. Look no further to find the magic of the medieval world, a place where visitors move seamlessly between masterpieces in the galleries and nature's glories in the gardens.

November is now upon us. With this season's last flowering, we turn to the Flower Studies to remind us that, while the gardens at The Met Cloisters will appear to wither and perish this winter, flowers quietly await their time to blossom and flourish again.

We hope our reflections in the captions on each photograph above will inspire you to come to The Met Cloisters to see this magnificent manuscript and our glorious gardens. Every flower in the book finds its counterpart in our gardens, each on show in its own time. Wait, watch, and welcome them with us, season after season, year after year.

Barbara Drake Boehm
Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator
The Met Cloisters
Caleb Leech
Managing Horticulturist
The Met Cloisters
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