The John Plummer Database of Medieval Manuscripts

John PlummerBefore entering Columbia University in 1944, John Plummer received his A.B. from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He was awarded his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1953 for a study on The Lothian Morgan Bible: a study in English illumination of the early thirteenth century. Two years later he joined the staff of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York as a research associate before becoming curator for medieval and renaissance manuscripts one year later.

He was to stay at the Morgan Library for some thirty-five years while also teaching at Columbia, Harvard and Princeton universities. Renowned for his manuscript studies, John was also responsible for acquiring some major acquisitions for the Morgan amongst which were the two parts of the Hours of Catherine of Cleeves. The exhibitions he curated while there are amongst the most pivotal undertaken and include Liturgical manuscripts for the Mass and the Divine Office (1964) and The Last Flowering (1982).

John generously donated his private collection of slides, amassed over sixty years of research to The Index of Christian Art in September 2012 and it is with pleasure that we now make them available to the scholarly community. The images will be thoroughly analyzed in the Index Database proper but in advance of that we are now making them available using a short format display.

In all, there are close to three thousand images of manuscripts from different collections throughout the world. Many of these are now in private hands and are listed simply as private. Others come from auction houses while the majority are from institutional collections. Low resolution images are available. The works are largely of books of hours-reflecting John's own interest and form the first part of his legacy to the Index. We hope to make his textual database of manuscripts available shortly. It is John's wish that these works are made publicly available and for that we are extremely grateful.

Selected Bibliography:

The Lothian Morgan Bible: A Study in English Illumination of the Early Thirteen Century. Columbia University, 1953.

The Hours of Catherine of Cleves. Introduction and commentaries by John Plummer. New York, G. Braziller. 1966.

The Last Flowering : French painting in manuscripts, 1420-1530 : from American collections. John Plummer with the assistance of Gregory Clark. New York. Pierpont Morgan Library/ Oxford University Press, 1982.

Liturgical manuscripts for the Mass and the Divine Office. John Plummer, with an introduction by Anselm Strittmatter. New York ,1964.

Colum Hourihane
Director, Index of Christian Art

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