Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg Facsimile Edition

Mantua (Italy) — 1442–1465

Illuminated by no less than Belbello da Pavia and Rogier van der Weyden: a magnificent, large-format manuscript with 70 luminous miniatures for the Renaissance princess Barbara of Brandenburg

  1. Countess Barbara von Brandenburg (1422–81) was one of the most well-cultivated women of the Renaissance

  2. Her missal features 70 large miniatures, gold leaf elements, and lapis lazuli

  3. The great manuscript was illuminated by famous names like Belbello da Pavia, Girolamo da Cremona, and Rogier van der Weyden

Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

The Missale of Barbara of Brandenburg is one of the most beautiful liturgical manuscripts of the Middle Ages. The precious manuscript was designed and decorated between 1442 and 1465 by some of the most famous illuminators of the Middle Ages. Among the artists involved are Belbello da Pavia, Girolamo da Cremona and most likely Rogier van der Weyden. The masterpiece is magnificently decorated with 70 larger and smaller miniatures and countless additional decorative elements of gold leaf and lapis lazuli. Originally commissioned by Gianlucido Gonzaga, it remained unfinished when he died in 1448. As one of the most remarkable and cultivated women of the Renaissance, Barbara of Brandenburg recognized the unbelievable worth of the enchantingly illuminated masterpiece and had work on the manuscript continued a year later. Completed in 1465, the manuscript is today considered one of the most important representatives of late Gothic illumination.

Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

The Italian painter and illuminator Belbello da Pavia began work in the year 1442 on a manuscript, which belongs today among the most exciting and precious codices of the Middle Ages. The Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg was manufactured over 20+ years through the collaboration of some of the greatest masters of the late Gothic and Renaissance styles. The splendid work contains 70 full-page, breathtaking miniatures. The 12 text pages presenting a calendar are particularly beautiful and elaborate. The handwritten text of the work is embellished with over 2,000 fantastically illuminated initials of various sizes.

The Countess Barbara von Brandenburg

Barbara von Brandenburg was the oldest child of Margrave Johann von Brandenburg and his wife Barbara, a daughter of Rudolf II von Sachsen-Wittenberg. She was already married to Margrave Luigi III Gonzaga von Mantua at the tender age of 11. The young Marquis grew up at the court of Mantua together with other members of the Gonzaga family and developed into one of the most remarkable and cultivated women of the Renaissance. She could speak four languages fluently and was a great patron of art and literature. The astounding Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg was originally created at the behest of Gianlucido Gonzaga (1421–48). He commissioned Belbello da Pavia with the design of the work. When he died in 1448, Barbara had already long recognized the unbelievable worth of the enchantingly illuminated masterpiece. She had work on the manuscript continued a year later.

Europe’s Greatest Artists

Belbello da Pavia, who began with the design of the missal in 1442, is considered today to be the most important representative of late-Gothic illumination. Together with the calligrapher Pietro Paolo Marono, who also composed the text of the famous Bible of Borso d’Este, produced a stunningly beautiful liturgical book, which remained unfinished for nearly a decade after da Pavia’s death. Girolamo da Cremona completed the precious manuscript in the year 1465 and with his pictures, allowed da Pavia’s enchanting, late Gothic depictions to meet with the new stylistic elements of the Renaissance. All of the miniatures were painted in powerful colors and are extraordinarily richly furnished with gold leaf and lapis lazuli. Three of the high-quality pictures originate from an anonymous artist, who in the field of art-historical research is considered very likely to be Rogier van der Weyden.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo
Missale der Barbara von Brandenburg
Size / Format
760 pages / 39.5 × 26.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1442–1465
Language
Illustrations
12 pages calendar with ornaments along the external margins. The following 68 miniatures include 2 big initials, 7 ff. with decorations all around the text, more than 2,000 illuminated capital letters of different size and hundreds of ink-decorated paragraph initials
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg – Archivio Storico Diocesano di Mantova (Mantua, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012
Limited Edition: 499 copies

Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo (Standard Edition) Facsimile Edition
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Detail Picture

Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

Acanthus Frame with Crossed Peacocks

The true mark of an Italian Renaissance masterpiece is that its marginalia and text are created with the same artistic quality and precious materials as its miniatures and historiated initials. Found on the page dedicated to the Pentecost, we see two peacocks – symbols of royalty – with magnificently illuminated plumage, their long crossed tales sparkling. The acanthus leaf, a popular Roman piece of décor, is featured prominently in the golden frame that surrounds the perfectly written text.

Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo (Deluxe Edition)
Single Page

Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg

Crucifixion

The most iconic of Christian images is presented here in a miniature by the Italian Renaissance master Girolamo da Cremona. Christ is depicted in a monumental manner reminiscent of early Byzantine art: he is dead but not in pain and seems to stand rather than hang from the cross. The Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist flank him, as is typical of late medieval Crucifixion scenes, and have looks of wonder rather than of sorrow.

A wonderful cityscape of Jerusalem is depicted in the background with other settlements visible in the distance under a clear blue sky. The scene is set within a gorgeous illusionistic frame depicted as golden jewelry with pearls, precious stones, and two small angels. Finally, one cannot help but notice the perfect symmetry of the scene.

Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo (Deluxe Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo (Deluxe Edition)

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012
Limited Edition: 499 copies
Binding: Red velvet binding featuring a diamond-shaped brass medallion with a semi-precious stone on the front cover.
Commentary: 1 volume by Giuseppa Z. Zanichelli, Federica Toniolo, Giancarlo Manzoli, Giuse Pastore, and Giancarlo Malacarne
Language: Italian
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.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Messale di Barbara del Brandeburgo (Standard Edition)

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2012
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Binding: Red velvet with two clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Giuseppa Z. Zanichelli, Federica Toniolo, Giancarlo Manzoli, Giuse Pastore, and Giancarlo Malacarne
Language: Italian
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.
Price Category: €€€€€ (over 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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