Dreamlike miniatures, gorgeous labors of the month, and a masterful use of perspective: a magnificent prayerbook worthy of a pope

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV

Late 15th Century

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV

— Late 15th Century

  1. Benedict XIV (1675-1758) was one of the most scholarly and respected popes in history

  2. His personal prayerbook was created by an anonymous Flemish master in the late-15th century

  3. A published theologian, the Pope presumably chose it both for its beauty and its litrugical text

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV

Alternative Titles:
  • Offiziolo di Benedetto XIV
  • Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis von Benedetto XIV.
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology
Short Description

A prayer book worthy of a wise and erudite pope: the Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV is a splendid specimen of late-15th century illumination created by an anonymous Flemish master. It was later selected as a personal prayerbook by Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758), who is not only celebrated as a patron of the arts and sciences, but as a distinguished scholar in his own right. In addition to the richly adorned liturgy of the hours, the small masterpiece contains a gorgeous calendar section with scenes from rural life.

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV

Some of the finest examples of 15th century illumination can be found in small, personalized manuscripts made for the wealthy and sophisticated. This specimen, owned by Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758), was created at the end of the 15th century by an anonymous but highly skilled Flemish master. The dreamlike miniatures feature figures in the foregrounds with a marked pictorial character and a masterful use of perspective in the architectural backgrounds and floral elements enclosed in lozenge-shaped frames are presented in the friezes. Gorgeous labors of the months are presented in the calendar section, which feature typical proverbs and sayings alongside the scenes of agriculture and rural life. Rich primary colors and the generous use of gold leaf round out the splendor of the Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV.

The Prayerbook of a Pope-Scholar

Pope Benedict XIV is remembered as one of the greatest scholars to ascend the throne of St. Peter and patronized Baroque works of art and scientific research – particularly the study of human anatomy. Thomism was reinvigorated during his reign, and the Pope personally studied ancient literature, the human body, and published numerous theological and ecclesiastical treatises. Horace Walpole described him as, “loved by papists, esteemed by Protestants, a priest without insolence or interest, a prince without favorites, a pope without nepotism, an author without vanity, a man whom neither intellect nor power could corrupt.” As such, the fact that he would choose the manuscript at hand as a personal prayer book speaks to the sophistication of its artistry as well as a personal affinity for the liturgical texts that were so masterfully written by the scribe.

Codicology
Alternative Titles
Offiziolo di Benedetto XIV
Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis von Benedetto XIV.
Size / Format
156 pages / 19.5 × 13.0 cm
Date
Late 15th Century
1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of Benedetto XIV“

Offiziolo di Benedetto XIV Facsimile

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Offiziolo di Benedetto XIV Facsimile

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2020
Commentary
1 volume
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.
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