The John Plummer Database of Medieval Manuscripts

Bernard of ClairvauxJohn Plummer received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. In 1953, he earned his PhD from Columbia University completing his dissertation titled, The Lothian Morgan Bible: a study in English Illumination of the Early Thirteenth Century. In 1955, John joined the staff of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York as a research associate before becoming curator for Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts; a position he would hold until his retirement thirty-five years later. John also simultaneously taught courses on medieval art and manuscripts at Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton universities. Renowned for his numerous contributions to manuscript studies, John was responsible for procuring major acquisitions for the Morgan Library notably including the two parts of the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The exhibitions he curated were amongst the most pivotal for the institution, including Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and the Divine Office (1964) and The Last Flowering (1982).


Over 3,000 images of medieval manuscripts with a special focus on Books of Hours. Countries can be browsed (Austria, Belgium, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, and United States) and then refined by respective city and site locations. Many manuscripts reproduced here are in private collections and recorded as Unknown (for Country). Primary subjects were recorded for each miniature and can be browsed in a dropdown menu, from Abraham: sacrificing Isaac to Zodiac Sign: Virgo.


The Index of Christian Art has made these images available for study purposes only.


In September 2012, John generously donated his slide collection to the Index where over 60 years of photography covering medieval manuscripts is made available to the public.


Plummer, John, “The Lothian Morgan Bible: A Study in English Illumination of the Early Thirteen Century” (PhD diss.,Columbia University, 1953).

Plummer, John, The Hours of Catherine of Cleves. New York: G. Braziller, 1966.

Plummer, John, and Gregory Clark, The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530: From American Collections. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library: Oxford University Press, c1982.

Plummer, John, Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and the Divine Office. Introduction by Anselm Strittmatter. New York: 1964.

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