Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Florence (Italy) — 1485

Italian Renaissance art in filigree perfection: the wedding gift of Lorenzo the Magnificent to his eldest daughter Lucrezia

  1. This masterpiece was a wedding present from Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–92) to his eldest daughter Lucrezia

  2. A gilded silver binding with finely worked enamel betrays the incredible illumination within

  3. A collaboration between the miniaturist Francesco Roselli (1445–1513) and the scribe Antonio Sinibaldi (1443–1528)

Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

The splendid Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492) was a wedding present to his eldest daughter Lucrezia (1470–1553), who married the Florentine banker Jacopo Salviati (1461–1533). The gilded silver binding with finely worked enamel directly reveals to the beholder what a precious manuscript this is. Hidden within it are 556 pages with ten-full page miniatures, twelve small calendar medallions, and seven historiated initials. The miniaturist favored by the Medici, Francesco Roselli (1455–1513), was responsible for painting them. The text originates from the scribe Antonio Sinibaldi (1443-before 1528).

Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449–1492) earned the epithet of “the Magnificent” thanks to his generous patronage of the fine arts. Consistent with his love of painting, he gifted a splendid prayer book to his older daughter Lucrezia (1470–1553) on the occasion of her wedding to the Florentine banker Jacopo Salviati (1461–1533). The manuscript originated in 1485 with ten full-page miniatures, twelve smaller calendar medallions and seven historiated initials on a total of 556 pages. The party responsible for the detailed paintings was the Medici family’s most favored miniaturist, Francesco Rosselli (1455–1513), the younger brother of the famous Florentine painter Cosimo Rosselli (1439–1507). Antonio Sinibaldi (1443-before 1528) contributed to the work as a scribe. He worked primarily for wealthy collectors and occasionally in permanent positions, such as for King Ferrante of Naples (1424–1494).

Gleaming Binding

The beholder is made aware of the preciousness of the manuscript even before they lay eyes on its luminous miniatures. A radiant gilded silver binding houses the prayer book. The silver plates of both covers are interlinked by five hinges decorated with vegetal décor. The richly ornamented front cover displays a diamond-shaped enamel work in the center field with the Archangel Gabriel, while Mary can be seen on the back cover. The binding alone demonstrates that this is an exceptionally precious manuscript.

A Recognizable Pattern of Décor

The painter Francesco Rosselli showed particular discipline in designing individual pages with an architectural pattern of décor. While large primary scenes such as the Annunciation or the Crucifixion are encompassed in arched frames, appearing underneath them are smaller pictures in quatrefoil or multi-foil frames. The entire composition was then encompassed by repetitively detailed decorative motifs such as foliage, diamond rings, or winged cherubs. Thus, the impression is given that every page is decorated down to the smallest detail, making it possible to continuously discover something new.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Prayerbook of Lorenzo de' Medici
Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici
Size / Format
556 pages / 17.0 × 10.8 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1485
Language
Illustrations
10 full-page miniatures, 12 smaller calendar miniatures, 7 historiated initials
Artist / School
Previous Owners
The manuscript was perhaps a gift to the dukes of Wittelsbach in whose inventory it appears for the first time in 1598. In 1785 it passed into the possessions of the Court Library in Munich.

Available facsimile editions:
Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici – Ms. Lat. 23 639 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1991
Limited Edition: 300 copies

Detail Picture

Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

November: Plowing Fields

The medallion miniature for this calendar page shows a typical labor of the month, but like many agricultural activities, the scene depended upon where the manuscript originated. Most illuminated calendar pages show a scene of plowing or sowing winter rye in October, but because this manuscript is from sunny Italy, this activity is pushed back a month. A farmer is shown driving two oxen with a background of barren trees and distant Alpine peaks inside of a splendid gold leaf frame.

Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - De Luxe Edition
Single Page

Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Front Cover and Spine

This elaborate book cover consists of five colorful enamel inlays set in gilded silver over a wood binding, which is engraved with roses, acanthus leaves, ribbons, and braided cords. The underlying silver is showing through the gold in some places, indicating that this was indeed a personal devotional manuscript that was frequently used. It was created by an unknown goldsmith ca. 1485.

The central enamel features the archangel Gabriel (the Virgin Mary is on the back), surrounded by four other enamels with flowers in amphorae, tendrils, and a bird. Five hinges, also made of gilded silver, connect the nearly identical front and back covers and consist of symmetrically arranged palmettes flanking a blossom surrounded by petals in the center.

Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - De Luxe Edition
Facsimile Editions

#1 Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - De Luxe Edition

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1991
Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici – Ms. Lat. 23 639 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici – Ms. Lat. 23 639 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1991
Limited Edition: 300 copies
Binding: Finest gold work with two bigger enamelled miniatures on front and back cover, 8 smaller enamelled floral miniatures and two gilt clasps
Commentary: 1 volume (402 pages) by Erwin Arnold, Mark L. Evans, Albinia C. de la Mare and Lorenz Seelig
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.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - Standard Edition

Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - Standard Edition
Gebetbuch des Lorenzo de' Medici - Standard Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Red velvet with enamelled miniature on front cover
Commentary: 1 volume (402 pages) by Erwin Arnold, Mark L. Evans, Albinia C. de la Mare and Lorenz Seelig
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.
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