Matteo da Milano and Tommaso da Modena: a Renaissance masterpiece from the Ferrara school for Ercole d'Este

Breviary of Ercole d'Este

Ferrara (Italy) — 1502–1504

Breviary of Ercole d'Este

Breviary of Ercole d'Este

Ferrara (Italy) — 1502–1504

  1. Matteo da Milano and Tommaso da Modena presented the work to Ercole d'Este (1431–1505), Duke of Ferrara, in 1504

  2. This early-16th century work is a highlight of the magnificent works of illumination created in Ferrara

  3. Splendid frames, gorgeous calendars, and manifold miniatures are generously embellished with gold leaf

Breviary of Ercole d'Este

Alternative Titles:
  • Breviario di Ercole I D'Este
  • ms. Lat. 424
Breviary of Ercole d'Este – ms. Lat. CCCCXXIV=Ms.V.G.11 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The so-called Breviary of Ercole d'Este is one of the highpoints of Ferrara’s 16th century illumination. Originating from the year 1502 to 1504, it is presented in an exuberant vestment of fantastic illumination: small miniatures, grandiose decorative frames, and countless initials alongside embellishing, artful ornamentation. Matteo da Milano and Tommaso da Modena were the artists responsible for this splendor, significant representatives of the miniature painting of the time. The Breviary of Ercole d'Este is an impressive testimonial to the cultural heyday of Ferrara under his rule!

Breviary of Ercole d'Este

The so-called Breviary of Ercole d'Este is one of the highpoints of Ferrara’s 16th century illumination. Originating from the year 1502 to 1504, it is presented in an exuberant vestment of fantastic illumination: small miniatures, grandiose decorative frames, and countless initials alongside embellishing, artful ornamentation. Matteo da Milano and Tommaso da Modena were the artists responsible for this splendor, significant representatives of the miniature painting of the time. The Breviary of Ercole d'Este is an impressive testimonial to the cultural heyday of Ferrara under his rule!

An Art-Oriented Duke

Ercole d’Este (1431–1505) was the Duke of Ferrara beginning in 1471. Under his direction, the Duchy of Ferrara developed into a commercial and cultural center in Italy. The most important artists were employed by Ercole. A particularly impressive testimonial of this great artistic age is the Duke’s personal prayer book, measuring 38 x 27 cm, it is unusually large and is representative of monumental manuscripts!

The Miniaturist of Popes and the Medici

The most important of Ferrara’s miniaturists were commissioned by the Duke: Matteo da Milano and Tommaso da Modena. Matteo da Milano (active 1492–1523) is considered to be the greatest miniaturist of his time and as such stood not only in the service of the Este in Ferrara, but also the Medici in Florence, and the Orsini in Rome, in addition to many other important patrons and even a few popes! Andrea della Vieze supported the work on the manuscript as a scribe. The late-Renaissance work of art was completed and presented to the Duke in 1504.

Impressive Paintings

The illumination of the breviary is composed of splendid frames, gorgeous calendars, and manifold miniatures – 45 full- and 11 half-page miniatures, as well was 40 smaller scenes – and an unbelievable 17,160 initials, 308 of which were gorgeously historiated. A precious gold background gleamed everywhere. The range of topics includes depictions of saints and biblical scenes. References to the patron and to Ferrara appear continuously, both in coats of arms and other heraldic symbols.

A Masterpiece of Ferrara’s Book Art

The manuscript is consistently distinguished by its stylistically and technically grandiose painting and is wonderfully supplemented by the beautiful Latin text. Arranged in two columns, it is characterized by the use of multicolored inks in black, red, and blue and the exquisite decoration of the fine ornamentation. Presented in this consummate splendor, the Breviary of Ercole d'Este is one of the highlights of the collection of the Biblioteca d’Este in Modena, which rests on the foundations of the famous library of the Dukes of Ferrara.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Breviario di Ercole I D'Este
ms. Lat. 424
Size / Format
986 pages / 38.0 x 27.0 cm
Date
1502–1504
Language
Illustrations
45 full-page and 11 half-page miniatures, 40 smaller scenes and 17,160 initials of which 308 are inhabited
Artist / School
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Breviary of Ercole d'Este“

Breviario di Ercole I d'Este
Breviary of Ercole d'Este – ms. Lat. CCCCXXIV=Ms.V.G.11 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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Breviario di Ercole I d'Este

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2011
Limited Edition
925 copies
Binding
Hand-made, in grain leather naturally tanned with gilt edged
Commentary
1 volume by E. Milano, I. Ansaloni, M. Mari, L. Sala, P. Baraldi and P. Di Pietro Lombardi
Language: Italian
More Information
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: €€€€€ (over 10,000€)
Edition available
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