Breviario de Fernando El Católico

Breviario de Fernando El Católico – Egeria, S.L. – Ms. Chig. C. VII. 205 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Spain — 1503–1512

Created for a pious king and adorned with his portraits: masses for Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter adorned with beautiful Renaissance miniatures

  1. The incredibly rich manuscript created by Pedro de Aponte was commissioned as a gift to King Ferdinand II (1452–1516)

  2. The outstanding richness and quality of the miniatures and frames are worthy of the devout King Ferdinand

  3. The coveted codex was an heirloom of the Spanish monarchy before it was acquired by Pope Alexander VII (1599–1667)

Breviario de Fernando El Católico

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Breviario de Fernando El Católico

This gem of Spanish Renaissance Illumination is a unique piece from the life of the Spanish King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Originating at the beginning of the 16th century, it presents portraits of the King inter alia amidst mind-blowing illumination. Aside from these valuable historical documents, the book of hours delights with its diverse miniatures, which are furnished with gold and are of truly fantastic quality!

Breviario de Fernando El Católico

The Christmas scene presents a true rush of color: the newborn Savior lies upon a cloth on the straw (and not in a crib!) amidst a halo and surrounded by reverent parents: Mary in a gorgeous blue cloak and Joseph in red robes. A troop of angels praying and playing music in bright robes stands in the background. Ox and donkey lay in an artful manger on the right margin gazing at a city and the landscape on the magically luminous horizon. Two men approach from the left, one dressed in red and appearing distinguished, the other is furnished with staff and basket. Both shepherds and angels of the Lord appear in the background!

A Spiritual Present for the Spanish King

This impressive miniature is representative of the thoroughly splendid artistic furnishings of the prayer book of Ferdinand the Catholic (1452–1516). The splendid manuscript presumably originated in Spain ca. 1503–1512 at the behest of Giovanni Maria Poderico. He was the King’s chaplain and the Archbishop of Taranto in Italy since 1510. The artist responsible is believed to be the Spanish painter Pedro de Aponte, who is famous above all for his works with religious content and presented the entirety of his skill with this private devotional book for the king.

An Intoxicating Visual Experience

The prayer book primarily contains the offices for Christmas, Three Kings Day, and Easter. This liturgical content was illustrated with full-page miniatures in the style of Renaissance illumination. Gorgeous decorative frames consisting of architectural elements populated with numerous additional figurative representations surround the large primary-miniatures in the center. On the page already mentioned with the birth of Christ in the manger in Bethlehem, there are depictions of saints, angels in grisaille painting, two smaller Marian scenes in luminous blue, and more. The artistic adornment of the manuscript is attested to by the outstanding richness and quality of the miniatures.

The Catholic King in Portrait

The manuscript hides three portraits of the King among the content-related biblical scenes, on folios 1v, 62r, and 111v to be precise. In doing so, Don Fernando, presented here as protector of Christianity, is always depicted alone. In the field of research, this fact is considered to be an indication for dating the manuscript, which was probably made after Isabella’s death in November 1504 and Ferdinand’s second marriage to Germana de Foix in 1506. After Ferdinand’s death, the breviary remained in the possession of the Spanish kings, in El Escorial inter alia, and first reached the Vatican library in the 17th century through Pope Alexander VII, where it is housed as an important historical treasure today.


Alternative Titles
Brevier von Ferdinand II. von Aragon
Brevier von Ferdinand dem Katholischen
Size / Format
614 pages / 33.0 × 23.5 cm
Offices for the masses at Christmas, Epiphany and Easter
Giovanni Maria Poderico
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Breviario de Fernando El Católico – Egeria, S.L. – Ms. Chig. C. VII. 205 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Egeria, S.L. – Madrid
Limited Edition: 2990 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Breviario de Fernando El Católico

Egeria, S.L. – Madrid

Publisher: Egeria, S.L. – Madrid
Limited Edition: 2990 copies
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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