Book of Hours of Alexander VI. Pope Borgia

Ms. IV 480 - Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)

Alternate Titles:

Libro de Horas de Alejandro VI. Papa Borgia, Stundenbuch Alexanders VI., Livre d’Heures d’Alexandre VI. Pape Borgia, Libro d'Ore di Alessandro VI. Papa Borgia, Livro de Horas de Alexandre VI. Papa Bórgia, Stundenbuch von Borgia-Papst Alexanders VI.

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Libro de Horas de Alejandro VI. Papa Borgia
Stundenbuch Alexanders VI.
Livre d’Heures d’Alexandre VI. Pape Borgia
Libro d'Ore di Alessandro VI. Papa Borgia
Livro de Horas de Alexandre VI. Papa Bórgia
Stundenbuch von Borgia-Papst Alexanders VI.

Type
Extent / Format

420 pages / 18.5 x 13.5 cm

Origin
Date
Late 15th century
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo de Borgia)

Artist / School

Gerard David

Illustrations

84 miniatures illuminated in gold and silver by Gerard David

Short description

The Book of hours of Pope Alexander impresses with 84 miniatures from the hand of one of the greatest painters of his time: Gerard David. This artist, actually employed as a panel-painter, produced many sought-out, enchanting book illustrations for the colorful and valuable miniatures for Pope Alexander IX. Originating from the beginning of the 15th century, the valuable miniatures, with their rich gold trimming, show religious scenes in exhilarating frames with elements of animals, plants, fruit, and architecture. The script was created in the patronage of the infamous Borgia-Pope Alexander VI, whose life and intrigue make him even today an interesting historical figure.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Book of Hours of Alexander VI. Pope Borgia

The Book of hours of Pope Alexander impresses with 84 miniatures from the hand of one of the greatest painters of his time: Gerard David. This artist, actually employed as a panel-painter, produced many sought-out, enchanting book illustrations for the colorful and valuable miniatures for Pope Alexander IX. Originating from the beginning of the 15th century, the valuable miniatures, with their rich gold trimming, show religious scenes in exhilarating frames with elements of animals, plants, fruit, and architecture. The script was created in the patronage of the infamous Borgia-Pope Alexander VI., whose life and intrigue make him even today an interesting historical figure.

The Last Great Book-Painting of Brügge

No less than Gerard Davis (around 1455-1523) should embroider the private Book of Hours for the Pope. This well-known artist was asked by the most important clients for panel or book paintings. He was one of the last representatives of highpoint of the Brügge painting school of thought. Gerard David was mainly employed as a panel-painter, but in his creative free-time he produced choice, enchanting book illustrations, like two Books of Hours for the Spanish Queen Isabella or the named after him Book of Hours of 1486. His style was unmistakable and in terms of detail, it has a high artistic and qualitative value. Only the best was good enough for Pope Alexander VI.
Amazing Miniature Paintings for the Pope
Spanning the 420 pages are 84 grand miniatures with rich gold and silver fixtures. Light colors present a true fire work of miniature painting towards the eye of the beholder. The miniatures are drafted as pictures in a window. There are ever surrounded by a bright frame, which contains creatively ornamental flowers, animals, or depictions of fantasy, and is designed in an artfully and architecturally-minded manner. Both are either connected, or made into an entire page, making a large panel-picture. The content of the frame is ever set in relation to the actual miniature. For example, the scene of the visitation of Mary is surrounded by light, red roses. The Lamentation of Christ finds itself within a frame resembling an altar, with the architectural feel of a church. The actual miniatures are pressed in David’s typical style. In terms of perspective, exact frames or airy landscapes underpin the fine yet physically present figures.
The text-pages are also partly embroidered with grandiose borders. These contain as the background of the text suitable depictions, like the Arma Christi, or an impressive amount of ornamental decoration with architectural elements or plant-like depictions.

The Famous/Infamous Borgia Pope

Rodrigo Borgia was chosen to become Pope Alexander VI.(1492-1503) in 1492. In order to win this vote, help came through bribes and other criminal activities, which have materialized uncountable conspiracy theories. The life of the Borgia Pope has indeed lost none of its mysterious aura. Originally from an unimportant family, Rodrigo Borgia transformed the Borgia Clan into one of the most influential and powerful families. The well-known, infamous Pope led a depraved life and used his power given to him by his office for his own favor. Corruption and intrigue were part and parcel of his tenure, making him an interesting figure for stories and narrative today. To grant him more understanding of his office, Alexander VI commissioned a private Book of Hours in the then capital of book art, Brügge. Even today the pages of the book are bound by their original bindings, which were finished in Brussels by Antoine de Gavere.

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