De Sphaera

De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)

Milan (Italy) β€” Ca. 1470

Renaissance everyday life and astrology in beautiful paintings by Cristoforo de Predis, the painter of the Sforza and Visconti: one of the most beautiful astrological works of all time, created for a member of the Sforza court

  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

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (4)
Description
De Sphaera

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 Milan 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 Γ— 16.3 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Ca. 1470
Language
Script
Gothic
Illustrations
15 full-page miniatures, 9 astronomical drawings, plus a chart concerning the moon and climate
Patron
A high-ranking member of the Sforza court in Milan, possibly Duke Francesco Sforza (1401–66) and his wife Bianca Maria Visconti (1425–68)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444–1476)
Anna Maria Sforza (1476–1497)

Available facsimile editions:
De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1995
Limited Edition: 980 copies (co-edition)

De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2010
Limited Edition: 980 copies (co-edition)

De Sphaera – Faksimile Verlag – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1995
Limited Edition: 980 copies (co-edition)

De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995
Limited Edition: 980 copies (co-edition)
Detail Picture

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 – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Single Page

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.

De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 De Sphaera

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1995

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
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: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#2 De Sphaera

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2010

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2010
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, Luca Bellingeri, Giovanna Lazzi, Annalisa Battini, Marco Bertozzi, and Manuela Incerti
Language: Italian

The new edition of the commentary volume contains the results of new analyses on the original and color reproductions of the miniatures in original size.
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: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#3 De Sphaera

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1995
De Sphaera – Faksimile Verlag – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – Faksimile Verlag – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 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 Ernesto Milano, Leandro Ventura, and Giancarlo Malacarne
Languages: German
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: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#4 De Sphaera

M. Moleiro Editor – Barcelona, 1995
De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
De Sphaera – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – X.2.14 = Lat.209 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

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 by Ernesto Milano, Leandro Ventura, and Giancarlo Malacarne
Languages: 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€)
You might also be interested in:
Columbus's Imago Mundi
Columbus's Imago Mundi
Leuven (Belgium) – Between 1480 and 1483

Part of world history because it made Christopher Columbus go off course: his annotated personal copy of the astronomical-geographical opus magnum by the French theologian Pierre d'Ailly.

Experience More
Nicolaus Copernicus - De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI – Orbis Pictus – Pol.6 III.142 – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka MikoΕ‚aj Kopernik w Toruniu (ToruΕ„, Poland)
Nicolaus Copernicus - De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI
Nuremberg (Germany) – 1543

A turning point for philosophy and natural science: the remarkable first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus' magnum opus β€œOn the Orbits of the Celestial Circles”, adorned with 148 wonderful woodcuts

Experience More
Aratea Vaticana – MΓΌller & SchindlerΒ  – MS Barb. lat. 76 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, Vatican City State)
Vatican Aratea
Court of Ferdinand I of Naples, Naples (Italy) – Second half of the 15th century

A splendid astronomical manuscript for King Ferdinand I of Naples or his son: Ancient mythology and the astronomy of Aratos of Soloi in 40 beautiful, gold-adorned Renaissance miniatures by Matteo Felice

Experience More
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths – Coron Verlag – Several Owners
The Twelve Zodiacal Signs and Their Myths
Paris (France); Bruges (Belgium) and others – 12th–16th century

From the most renowned art collections in the world: some of the most beautiful and famous depictions of the zodiac in book illumination and evidence of the medieval and modern fascination with the art of astrology

Experience More
Sforza Legendarium – Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Ms. Varia 124 – Biblioteca Reale di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Sforza Legendarium
Milan (Italy) – 1476

The mighty Duchy of Milan as a backdrop for the saints: one of the most beautiful works of the Italian Early Renaissance, created by the gifted Cristoforo de Predis for Galeazzo Maria Sforza

Experience More
Christianus Prolianus Astronomia – Imago – Latin MS 53 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Christianus Prolianus Astronomia
Naples (Italy) – 1478

At the behest of Cardinal Giovanni d'Aragona: gold-decorated eclipses, the 4 element theory of Aristotle, and references to the war between Naples and Florence in Christianus Prolianus' Astronomia

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher