Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

Italy — 15th century

Careful calligraphy, ornate initials, and perfect pastel-colored miniatures: a Renaissance masterpiece on purple parchment

  1. Oliviero Carafa (1430–1511) was a cardinal, archbishop, condottiero, jurist, and leading patron of the arts

  2. Costly purple parchment was chosen for the manuscript he commissioned from Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433–1511)

  3. Sanvito capitalized on the rich, dark backgrounds by using gold, silver, and delicate pastel colors

Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

Gold, silver, and delicate pastel colors play against the deep purple parchment pages of this sublime manuscript. It was the personal book of hours of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, a prince of the Church and mentor to the future Pope Paul IV, who was a relative of his. It originated from the hand of Bartolomeo Sanvito, a talented humanist artist from Padua

Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

Oliviero Carafa (1430–1511) was a cardinal, archbishop, condottiero, and jurist as well as being a leading patron of the arts in his day. He was a member of the powerful Carafa family, one of the leading dynasties of Renaissance Naples, and mentored his relative Giovanni Pietro Carafa (1476–1559), who eventually became Pope Paul IV (1476–1559). Elegant and costly purple parchment was chosen for the manuscript at hand, created at the Cardinal’s behest by Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433–1511). Originally from Padua, Sanvito was trained in Rome. The artist capitalized on the rich, dark backgrounds by using gold, silver, and delicate pastel colors. Sanvito was a master of Humanist italic script, and one could be forgiven for thinking that the text was printed, when it was actually recorded by a skilled hand in gold and silver ink. The cardinal’s coat-of-arms serve as a frontispiece for the work, which is additionally adorned with 8 full-page miniatures of the highest quality. Decorative initials throughout the text are masterfully adorned with floral and other natural motifs. Today, the work is counted among the gems of the famous Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro d'Ore del Cardinale Carafa
Stundenbuch von Kardinal Carafa
Size / Format
398 pages / 14.0 × 9.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
15th century
Language
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa – ms. vat. lat. 9490 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2016
Limited Edition: 1059 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

King David

King David is shown kneeling, hands folded in prayer with his lyre laid down alongside him in this wonderful pastel colored miniature, which is further embellished with the skillful use of gold ink. Two angels put their hands on the shoulders of the King of Israel, who has a surprised look on his face as he lays eyes upon the two heavenly messengers. The image is likely to be symbolic of the divine inspiration that allowed David to compose the Psalms according to biblical tradition.

Libro d'Ore del Cardinale Carafa
Single Page

Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa

Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Despite having a corner torn away, this is a splendidly embellished page introducing the Little Office, which is recited at Matins with seasonal variations at Advent and Christmastide. The artist has made full use of the rare and expensive purple-dyed parchment by using delicate pastel colors and gold ink in particular to create one of the most unique and beautiful Renaissance manuscripts.

Masterfully shaded cherubs with golden wings and hair surround the text field: two stand in classically-styled vases, each holding up a cornucopia, while two more sit aloft facing one another. Cardinal Carafa’s coat of arms is displayed at the bottom of the page, where we see other details like table legs in the shape of lions’ feet and winged human hybrids.

Libro d'Ore del Cardinale Carafa
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro d'Ore del Cardinale Carafa

ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2016
Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa – ms. vat. lat. 9490 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Book of Hours of Cardinal Carafa – ms. vat. lat. 9490 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2016
Limited Edition: 1059 copies
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3.000€ - 7.000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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