Farnese Hours

Ms M.69 - Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)

Alternate Titles:

Farnese-Stundenbuch, Stundenbuch des Kardinals Alessandro Farnese

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Farnese-Stundenbuch
Stundenbuch des Kardinals Alessandro Farnese

Type
Extent / Format

228 pages / 17.2 x 10.8 cm

Origin
Date
1537-1546
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Cardinal Alessandro Farnese

Artist / School

Giulio Clovio

Illustrations

26 full-page miniatures, 37 ornamental text pages

Former owners

King Ferdinand II of Naples
Alphonse de Bourbon

Short description

Renaissance Italy way all about displays of magnificence, especially among the various princes of Italy, be they secular princes or princes of the church. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), a descendant of one of the most powerful dynasties in Italy, was also one of the greatest art patrons of the 16th century. Alessandro descended in direct lineage from Pope Paul III and commissioned wonderful works of art to reflect his proud lineage. Alessandro’s exquisite and demanding taste is reflected in his prayer book, for whose decoration he hired Croatian born Giulio Clovio (1498–1578), the most talented miniaturist of the Italian Renaissance. The Farnese Hours clearly constitutes Clovio’s masterpiece, and is regarded as one of the most exquisite illuminated manuscripts to ever be made.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Magnificent Renaissance Art in a Silver Binding

The Farnese Hours is the most significant manuscript of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist art. It was made around 1546 in Rome, world capital of the arts, where such incomparable masters as Raphael and Michelangelo introduced a new artistic epoch. The most famous and eminent illuminator of the period was Croatian born Giulio Clovio, who animated the Farnese Hours with his unique miniatures, which appear at once monumental and delicate. Clovio created this very intimate prayer book for the famous Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the greatest art patrons of the 16th century. 26 full-page miniatures and 37 lavishly decorated text pages make the Farnese Hours one of the finest manuscripts in the history of art.

The Patron

His family long influenced the destiny of Rome, the most excellent artists of his time executed several works in his name, and he commissioned one of the finest manuscripts ever made in history: Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), a descendant of one of the most powerful dynasties in Italy. Alessandro descended in direct lineage from Pope Paul III and administered the priceless art collections of his family.

A "Raphael of Miniature Painting"

Alessandro’s exquisite and demanding taste is also reflected in his prayer book, for whose decoration he hired Croatian born Giulio Clovio (1498–1578), the most talented miniaturist of the Italian Renaissance. This book of hours clearly constitutes Clovio’s masterpiece. In its monumental miniatures, he achieved a degree of craftsmanship which earned him the surname of a "new Michelangelo" or a "Raphael of miniature painting".

26 Luminous Miniatures and 37 Gloriously Decorated Text Pages

A total of 26 full-page miniatures, sometimes facing one another in pairs, show a unique and perfect amalgamation of Renaissance and Mannerist elements. The exquisite application of gold and luminous colors combine into a magnificently holistic work of art. The miniatures are paired according to the same typology – each time a scene from the Old Testament is faced with an episode of the New Testament. A further fascinating aspect of the Farnese Hours is its elaborate borders, framing the 37 decorated text pages with atmospheric landscapes, naturalistic still-lifes, impressive portraits, and the best of grotesque motifs.

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