Farnese Hours

Farnese Hours Facsimile Edition

Rome (Italy) — 1537–1546

26 full-page painting-like miniatures commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese: a unique fusion of Renaissance painting and Mannerism, created by Giulio Clovio, one of the greatest miniaturists of all time

  1. The exquisite taste of the great patron Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–89) is reflected in his prayer book

  2. Giulio Clovio (1498–1578), the most talented miniaturist of the Italian Renaissance, was responsible for the masterpiece

  3. 26 full-page miniatures show a unique and perfect amalgamation of Renaissance and Mannerist elements

Farnese Hours

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Farnese Hours

Renaissance Italy was all about displays of magnificence, especially among the various princes of Italy, be they secular princes or princes of the church. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), a descendant of one of the most powerful dynasties in Italy, was also one of the greatest art patrons of the 16th century. Alessandro descended in direct lineage from Pope Paul III and commissioned wonderful works of art to reflect his proud lineage. Alessandro’s exquisite and demanding taste is reflected in his prayer book, for whose decoration he hired Croatian born Giulio Clovio (1498–1578), the most talented miniaturist of the Italian Renaissance. The Farnese Hours clearly constitutes Clovio’s masterpiece, and is regarded as one of the most exquisite illuminated manuscripts to ever be made.

Farnese Hours

The Farnese Hours is the most significant manuscript of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist art. It was made around 1546 in Rome, world capital of the arts, where such incomparable masters as Raphael and Michelangelo introduced a new artistic epoch. The most famous and eminent illuminator of the period was Croatian born Giulio Clovio, who animated the Farnese Hours with his unique miniatures, which appear at once monumental and delicate. Clovio created this very intimate prayer book for the famous Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the greatest art patrons of the 16th century. 26 full-page miniatures and 37 lavishly decorated text pages make the Farnese Hours one of the finest manuscripts in the history of art.

The Patron

His family long influenced the destiny of Rome, the most excellent artists of his time executed several works in his name, and he commissioned one of the finest manuscripts ever made in history: Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), a descendant of one of the most powerful dynasties in Italy. Alessandro descended in direct lineage from Pope Paul III and administered the priceless art collections of his family.

A "Raphael of Miniature Painting"

Alessandro’s exquisite and demanding taste is also reflected in his prayer book, for whose decoration he hired Croatian born Giulio Clovio (1498–1578), the most talented miniaturist of the Italian Renaissance. This book of hours clearly constitutes Clovio’s masterpiece. In its monumental miniatures, he achieved a degree of craftsmanship which earned him the surname of a "new Michelangelo" or a "Raphael of miniature painting".

Magnificent Renaissance Art in a Silver Binding

A total of 26 full-page miniatures, sometimes facing one another in pairs, show a unique and perfect amalgamation of Renaissance and Mannerist elements. The exquisite application of gold and luminous colors combine into a magnificently holistic work of art. The miniatures are paired according to the same typology – each time a scene from the Old Testament is faced with an episode of the New Testament. A further fascinating aspect of the Farnese Hours is its elaborate borders, framing the 37 decorated text pages with atmospheric landscapes, naturalistic still-lives, impressive portraits, and the best of grotesque motifs. The initial soft leather binding of the manuscript, bound by two red silk ribbons, was replaced in the early 17th century by gilded silver covers by Antonio Gentili, adding to the splendor of this precious milestone of art history.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Farnese-Stundenbuch
Stundenbuch des Kardinals Alessandro Farnese
Size / Format
228 pages / 17.2 × 10.8 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1537–1546
Language
Script
Cancellaresca formata
Illustrations
26 full-page miniatures and 37 ornamental text pages with architectural borders and classical nudes
Content
Liturgy of the Hours, use of Rome
Patron
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Cardinal Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626)
Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma (1612–1646)
Elizabeth Farnese, consort of Philip V, King of Spain (1692–1766)
Charles III, King of Spain (1716–1788)?
Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies (1751–1825)?
Francis I, King of the Two Sicilies (1777–1830)?
Francesco II Borbone, King of the Two Sicilies (1836–1894)
Alphonse de Bourbon (1841–1934)
J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913)

Available facsimile editions:
Farnese Hours – Ms M.69 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2001
Limited Edition: 100 copies

Farnese Hours – Ms M.69 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2001
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Detail Picture

Farnese Hours

The Fall of Man

This miniature depicting the fall from grace has the quality and detail of a panel painting. Wrapped around the tree, the devil is shown as a serpent with the fair face of a young man looking at Eve as she extends the forbidden fruit toward Adam. Aside from the beautiful forms of the muscular Adam and the fertile Eve, the Garden of Eden is filled with deer, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and a bull lazily grazing and enjoying the blissful ignorance that the original humans are about to lose.

Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Luxury Edition)
Single Page

Farnese Hours

Corpus Christi Procession

This lovely double-page miniature is the most impressive image in the manuscript and one of the most striking in any book of hours, it depicts the procession to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during the Feast of Corpus Christi. The Tiber, Castel Sant'Angelo, and city walls are all depicted with the accuracy of a topographical representation.

A long procession of cardinals, bishops, ministers, Swiss Guards, acolytes, and others accompany Pope Paul III. (Alessandro Farnese), who sits in the Sedia gestatoria, the Pope’s ceremonial throne, and holds the Ostensorium, a monstrance with the Host. Above, the clouds open to reveal visions of the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary looking down on the procession. Cherubs in the clouds toss flowers down at the devotees.

Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Luxury Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Luxury Edition)

Limited Edition: 100 copies
Binding: Luxury edition: faithful reproduction of the gilded silver binding. All folios are cut according to the original. Facsimile and commentary in a case.
Commentary: 1 volume (228 pages) by William M. Voelkle and Ivan Golub
Language: German

W. Voelkle, New York, and I. Golub, Zagreb. Detailed scholarly commentary on contents, structure, history of origin and the significance of the codex with respect to history of art and the silver cover.
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. All folios are cut according to the original.

#2 Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Normal Edition)

Limited Edition: 550 copies
Binding: Normal edition: leather binding with silver embossing. All folios are cut according to the original. Facsimile and commentary in a slipcase.
Commentary: 1 volume (228 pages) by W. Voelkle and I. Golub
Language: German

W. Voelkle, New York, and I. Golub, Zagreb. Detailed scholarly commentary on contents, structure, history of origin and the significance of the codex with respect to history of art and the silver cover.
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. All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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