By Cristoforo de Predis, the painter of Sforza and Visconti: one of the most beautiful astrological works of Renaissance illumination

De Sphaera

Milan (Italy) — Around 1470

De Sphaera

De Sphaera

Milan (Italy) — Around 1470

  1. Cristoforo de Predis created an astrological textbook with reflections on the everyday life of the Renaissance

  2. The Italian Renaissance master was active at the magnificent court of the Visconti and Sforza in Milan

  3. His masterpiece of book art delivered an important precursor to the astronomical insights of our time

De Sphaera

De Sphaera

Execution of a Heretic

Aside from its main theme of astrology, this manuscript is a gorgeous source on daily life in Europe at the dawn of the Renaissance, including some of its more brutal aspects. Religious strife permeated late medieval society and numerous heretical movements preceding the Protestant Reformation were violently suppressed. Set in the courtyard of a castle, the condemned is kneeling across from monks with covered faces praying for his soul as the executioner is about to deliver the fatal blow.

De Sphaera

Alternative Titles:
  • De Sphaera Estense
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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Regular price without login (like new)980 €
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The work De Sphaera by Cristoforo de Predis is an astrological textbook, which combined the wise descriptions of planets and zodiac signs with reflections of the everyday life of the Renaissance in a most-skillful way. The 15 full-page illustrations that decorate the text are among the most beautiful and detailed illuminations of the 15th century.

De Sphaera

One of the most beautiful astronomical books of the Renaissance came into being around 1470 in Upper Italy at the court of the Visconti. With his masterwork De Sphaera, the illuminator Cristoforo de Predis composed a lore of the stars and planets, which represented the most modern state of science at that time. The scientific insights are accompanied by 15 magnificent miniatures, which display the astronomical charts in which the planets are documented, illustrating the relationship between heaven and Earth as well as scenes connecting everyday life with the recurring movements of the heavens.

The Sforza, Patrons of Art and Science

One of the most influential authors of the Renaissance was employed at the court of the Sforza, or the preceding Visconti, respectively. World-renowned works were commissioned by the family, De Sphaera included. The painter Cristoforo de Predis, who was deaf from birth, patterned his codex on the foundation laid by previous astronomical discoveries, which were clarified using mathematical laws, but has not completely done away with the influence of poetry and enchantment through the use of myths and legends, together with the influence of the divine and superstitious. Many of the princes of the Visconti regularly had their horoscopes read, which was ordained by the astrological culture in the humanist Upper Italy of the Renaissance. The numerous templates were ably bound by de Predis into one of the most masterful scientific documents of the time.

Heavenly Paintings

Cristoforo de Predis was an illuminator of exceptional ability, he imparted a sensibility to his draws, the subtlety of which was probably enhanced by his congenital disorder. The 15 full page miniatures in De Sphaera show the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the Sun, and the Moon, which encircle the Earth in accordance with the perception of the time. He explains using the most modern science of the time the phases of the Moon and the climatic coordinates, and combined these insights with traditional beliefs that ascribed the destiny of mankind to the influence of the stars. In a vivid range of colors and a surprising attention to detail, he draws the enchanting landscapes, cities, and living spaces that are presented in a markedly realistic fashion and take the beholder back to long forgone times.

The most Beautiful Illustrations of the Renaissance

With his work, de Predis created a masterwork of book art and delivered an important precursor to the astronomical insights of our time. He ordered the different areas of everyday life to the movements of the planets overhead and delivered an artful precursor to our modern celestial maps. A particularity, that was common to the astronomy at the time, is the personification of the planets. These were attributed either good or bad properties, which recurred with the respective sign of the Zodiac. The work is a fantastic contemporary witness and an important document of the culture.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
De Sphaera Estense
Size / Format
32 pages / 24.5 x 16.3 cm
Date
Around 1470
Language
Illustrations
15 full-page miniatures, 9 astronomical drawings
Artist / School
Previous Owners
De Sphaera

De Sphaera

Jupiter

These miniatures are some of the finest of the 15th century and unite contemporary knowledge of the stars with the iconography of the zodiac and scenes from everyday life. In a ring of concentric rainbow circles, we see Jupiter, personified with arrows and scepter in hand with a quiver over his shoulder. At his feet, the zodiac signs for Pisces and Sagittarius are presented in medallions.

A medieval market is presented at the bottom of the page with three stalls in a walled square with checkerboard tiles that lend the scene perspective. On the left, we see a fruit seller using a scale to measure his wares. In the middle, a grain seller fills sacks for his customer. On the right, a banker counts out coins for an extravagantly-dressed man.

3 available facsimile edition(s) of „De Sphaera“

De Sphaera
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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De Sphaera

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1995
Limited Edition
980 copies (co-edition)
Binding
The magnificent red leather cover is handmade and decorated with the coat-of-arms of the Visconti/Sforza.
Commentary
1 volume by Gianni Venturi, Giovanna Lazzi, Annalisa Battini, Marco Bertozzi, Leandro Ventura and Giancarlo Malacarne
Languages: Italian, English
Price Category: from €€
Regular price without login (like new)980 €
Price: Login here!
De Sphaera
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De Sphaera

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1995
Limited Edition
980 copies (co-edition)
Binding
The magnificent red leather cover is handmade and decorated with the coat-of-arms of the Visconti/Sforza.
Commentary
1 volume
Languages: German
Regular price without login (like new)980 €
Price: Login here!
De Sphaera
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De Sphaera

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995
Limited Edition
980 copies (co-edition)
Binding
The magnificent red leather cover is handmade and decorated with the coat-of-arms of the Visconti/Sforza.
Commentary
1 volume
Languages: Spanish
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