Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici Facsimile Edition

Florence (Italy) — Before 1492

3 daughters, 3 wedding gifts: one of three almost identical illuminated manuscripts that Lorenzo the Magnificent commissioned for his three daughters

  1. Commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492), the rich and powerful Renaissance ruler of Florence

  2. One of three almost identical manuscripts that Lorenzo intended as a wedding presents for his 3 daughters

  3. A Renaissance masterpiece in a binding of violet velvet with gilded silver fittings and clasps, four rose quartz, and a large lapis lazuli

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

The Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici was named in the Renaissance Prince’s 1492 inventory. It gained the additional title “for ladies” because it was probably commissioned as a wedding present for the Prince’s daughter. The illustration of the work is ascribed to Francesco Rosselli. The small manuscript is a highpoint in the precious book collection of the Medici family.

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

The handwritten, illuminated codices of the Italian Renaissance are counted among the highest achievements of European illumination during the Middle Ages. The unforgettably high-quality artistic refinement of Italian illuminators of that time influenced artists worldwide and set new standards. In particular, the court of the famous Renaissance principality of the Medici served as a point of origin for works whose breathtaking variety of designs remain unrivalled. The art lover Lorenzo de Medici commissioned a few literary works, which today count among the greatest book treasures in the world. Among these is also his book of hours, which was listed in the Prince’s inventory in 1492 as the so-called “book of hours for the use of ladies”. The small gem only measures 10 x 15 cm and is embellished with nine full-page pictures with elaborate frames.

A Precious Jewel

Lorenzo de Medici most likely commissioned the small book, which according to its title was intended for women, as a wedding present for his daughter. The design of the work is ascribed to the famous Italian illuminator Francesco Rosselli. The Renaissance artist worked as a copperplate engraver, miniaturist, cartographer, and painter and is considered to be the most famous representative of the Florentine school alongside Francesco di Antonio del Chierico. Each of the 233 pages of text in the manuscript is adorned with a high-quality decorative element. The exceptional binding of the book already makes the heart of every art lover beat faster. It consists of violet velvet, which is offset by metal corner fittings and clasps made of chiseled gilded silver and is studded on the front and back covers with a large lapis lazuli and four rose quartz.

A Carefully Conceived Image Program

The miniatures of the work are a mirror of the high grade of art, which the Italian Renaissance had reached up to that in its development. Everything in this manuscript points to a prestigious provenance and an equally sophisticated addressee – from the binding to the stingingly beautiful script to the carefully conceived arrangement of the miniatures. The pages of the book on which the written text dominates are decorated with richly adorned initials and friezes. The high quality of the full-page miniatures, which depict biblical scenes and motifs, makes them reminiscent of the world-famous paintings of great Renaissance artists like Botticelli or da Vinci. They are framed by richly embellished wreaths and garlands and all of the pictures are arranged on the pages according to the strictest rules of harmony in book art. Today, the precious codex is stored in the bequest library of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence.


Alternative Titles
Libro d'Ore di Lorenzo de Medici
Stundenbuch des Lorenzo de’ Medici
Florentiner Stundenbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici
Size / Format
472 pages / 15.3 × 10.1 cm
Before 1492
Littera antiqua
9 full-page miniatures, each surrounded by elaborate floral decorations enriched with festoons and garlands. Numerous historiated initials, friezes, and other ornaments found on every page.
Liturgy of the Hours
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici – Ms. Ashburnam 1874 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2004
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

November: Sowing Winter Rye

Rye is a hardier variety of grain than wheat and is traditionally planted as a winter cereal, the reasons for which are two-fold. Firstly, it provides an initial grain harvest to help alleviate the strain on food stocks often felt after a long winter. Secondly, rye serves as ground cover to keep out weeds and even if it is not harvested, can be tilled back into the soil to enrich it. This magnificent medallion miniature shows a man driving two oxen to plow the soil for planting.

Libro d'Ore di Lorenzo de Medici
Single Page

Book of Hours of Lorenzo de' Medici

The Annunciation and Nativity

Here Francesco Rosselli presents a typically Florentine Annunciation: it is set in an enclosed garden with classical architecture and a grand landscape in the background – the Hortus conclusus was a common emblem of the Virgin Mary. The archangel Gabriel, gloriously adorned with gold leaf, addresses Mary directly as the Holy Spirit descends upon her from above.

The scene is flanked by two large candelabra accompanied by various cherubs, tendrils, and portraits in medallion miniatures. Prominent among them is a quatrefoil depicting the Nativity scene below the primary miniature, a direct depiction of cause and effect. Aside from the use of a wide range of bright colors, the use of gold leaf on the page is almost overwhelming.

Libro d'Ore di Lorenzo de Medici
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro d'Ore di Lorenzo de Medici

Publisher: Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2004
Binding: Violet velvet with gilded silver fittings and clasps, four rose quartz, and a large lapis lazuli
Commentary: 1 volume (304 pages) by Franca Arduini, Cristina Acidini Luchinat, Laura Regnicoli, Adriana Di Domenico, and Dora Liscia Bemporad
Language: Italian
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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