A cardinal's gift to Anna Sforza: 146 miniatures from the Milanese school in a lovely prayer book

Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este

Milan (Italy) — End of the 15th century–start of the 16th century

Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este

Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este

Milan (Italy) — End of the 15th century–start of the 16th century

  1. Cardinal Ippolito d’Este (1479–1520) commissioned Francesco Binaso with the creation of this masterpiece

  2. It is a gorgeous testimonial to Milanese illumination ca. 1500 with large miniatures and 146 initials

  3. Various female figures point to Anna Sforza (1476–97) as the possible recipient of the splendid prayer book

Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este

Alternative Titles:
  • Officium Beate Marie Virginis del Cardinale Ippolito I d’Este
  • Officium beatae mariae virginis von Kardinal Ippolito d'Este
Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este – Lat. 74 = alfa Q. 9. 31 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este – Lat. 74 = alfa Q. 9. 31 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The precious Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este presents itself as a gorgeous testimonial to Milanese illumination ca. 1500. The history of the manuscript is closely associated with the tragic life of Anna Sforza, the first wife of Ippolito’s brother Alfonso d’Este. 12 large-format miniatures and countless fantastic historiated initials adorn the private prayer book, which wonderfully presents the artistry of the Milanese court painter Francesco Binaso in the Este cardinal’s commission.

Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este

The precious Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este presents itself as a gorgeous testimonial to Milanese illumination ca. 1500. The history of the manuscript is closely associated with the tragic life of Anna Sforza, the first wife of Ippolito’s brother Alfonso d’Este. 12 large-format miniatures and countless fantastic historiated initials adorn the private prayer book, which wonderfully presents the artistry of the Milanese court painter Francesco Binaso in the Este cardinal’s commission.

A Manuscript for the Cardinal…

The so-called Hours of Ippolito d’Este originated from a commission by a cardinal of the same name ca. 1500 in Milan. Ippolito d’Este (1479–1520) came from the powerful ducal family of Este in Ferrara and was already a cardinal in his childhood and eventually became archbishop of Milan. Ippolito commissioned the miniaturist Francesco Binaso, who was active at the Sforza court in Milan at the end of the Quattrocento and beginning of the Cinquecento, with the fabrication of this costly prayer book.

Overwhelming Visual Adornment

Francesco Binaso splendidly decorated the Officium as a private devotional book and thereby stayed true to the traditions of the Italian Renaissance. Twelve large-format miniatures illustrate scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and various female saints. The women are depicted with long, gorgeous hair and correspond to the all-around ideal of beauty at the time. The content of the texts is visually presented before the eyes of the beholder in the midst of gorgeous landscapes and impressive architectural backdrops. The manuscript is completed by 146 gorgeous historiated initials. Overall, they are richly ornamented, elegantly and colorfully designed. Artful tendrils and fantastic décor surround the initials.

...or for a Woman?

The focus of the miniatures on female saints allows one to discern a connection of the manuscript with a woman. The Officium presumably found its way into the possession of Anna Sforza (1476–1497) – as a present? Anna was the daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the Duke of Milan. She was married to Alfonso I d’Este in 1491, the future Duke of Ferrara and brother of Cardinal Ippolito. This union had already been agreed upon in the year after Anna’s birth. Nonetheless, the two experienced an unhappy marriage, Anna was first able to get pregnant after 6 years and finally died in childbirth. The manuscript is reminiscent of the woman and her eventful, but short life and simultaneously presents itself as a gorgeous artwork of Italian illumination ca. 1500.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Officium Beate Marie Virginis del Cardinale Ippolito I d’Este
Officium beatae mariae virginis von Kardinal Ippolito d'Este
Size / Format
278 pages / 24.0 x 14.0 cm
Date
End of the 15th century–start of the 16th century
Language
Illustrations
12 large-format miniatures and 146 decorated initials

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este“

Officium Beate Marie Virginis di Anna Sforza
Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este – Lat. 74 = alfa Q. 9. 31 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Officium beatae mariae virginis of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este – Lat. 74 = alfa Q. 9. 31 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
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Officium Beate Marie Virginis di Anna Sforza

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Imago – Castel Guelfo
Limited Edition
300 copies
Binding
Hand-made binding. Grained leather naturally tanned and hand-sewn on ropes. Cutting with gold gilding.
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.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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