Sant'Agostino Estense

Sant'Agostino Estense – Graffiti – Cod. Lat. II,60 (α 2075) – Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, Italy)

Ferrara (Italy) — 1482

Created in Ferrara during the heyday of the city's illumination: a devotional book with 68 gold-decorated miniatures in honor of St. Augustine

  1. Ferrara was an established center for the production of manuscripts when this work emerged in 1482

  2. Under the direction of the d'Este princes, local workshops produced magnificent illuminated codices

  3. This masterpiece was a collaboration of the scribe Andrea dalle Vieze and the painter Tommaso da Modena (1326–1379)

Sant'Agostino Estense

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Sant'Agostino Estense

Long before 1471, Ferrara was an established center for the production of manuscripts. Local workshops under Leonello d'Este (1407-50) had stressed the classics and humanistic subjects, and under Borso d’Este (1413–71) had shifted their focus to magnificently illuminated books, to translations, and to vernacular literature. Under his half-brother Ercole (1431–1505), they broadened still further. Ercole ordered at least four splendidly illuminated Breviaries for his personal use and among them is this wonderful Orationes by Saint Agustine (354-430). A work of Andrea dalle Vieze (scribe) and Tommaso da Modena (artist), the Sant’Agostino Estense, with its 68 miniatures embellished with gold and more than 130 smaller gilded and colored initials, was produced around 1482 for the Este court and is counted among the masterpiece produced in Ferrara.

Sant'Agostino Estense

A manuscript worthy of the powerful and sophisticated House of Este, the Sant'Agostino Estense. The 68 miniatures and 130+ initials glimmering with gold leaf found in this manuscript are a splendid reflection of the tremendous works of Renaissance illumination that were being produced in Ferrara, which was already a well-established center of manuscript production in Italy when this splendid manuscript was created in 1482. Produced by leading artists of the period, it is dedicated to Ercole I d'Este (1431-1505), second Duke of Ferrara, and brother of Borso d’Este (1413-71).

The Este Family: Famous Patrons of Art

Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara (1407-50) cultivated an atmosphere in which artists’ workshops thrived and produced Humanist works focused on classical literature. Under his less-educated brother Borso d’Este, the intellectual life of the city stagnated somewhat and thus the illuminators turned to providing magnificently illuminated books, translations, and vernacular literature that appealed to rich patrons. Borso was succeeded in turn by his half-brother Ercole d’Este (1431-1505), who carried on the tradition of art patronage and expanded it to music, creating a musical establishment to rival Rome’s by importing Franco-Flemish musicians to Italy.

Part of a Grand Tradition

Four magnificent breviaries created for his personal use attest to Ercole’s status as a leading patron of the arts and include the splendid Orationes by Saint Agustine (354-430), which carries the full name Orationes ex meditationibus et ex Soliloquiis Divi Patris Augustini Episcopi hipponensis. This manuscript was a collaborative effort by the scribe Andrea dalle Vieze and the miniaturist Tommaso da Modena (ca. 1325-1379). Andrea dalle Vieze wrote the 384-page text in a single column of 21 lines, which is adorned with 7 historiated initials and 130+ smaller golden and colored initials.

A Lost Manuscript

In spite of its magnificence, the Sant'Agostino Estense was never properly cataloged in the Estense Library and was lost when the Este court moved to Modena in 1598. Although it is not known how or when, the manuscript made its way into the collection of the Venetian patrician and bibliophile Jacopo Nani (d. 1796), who upon his death donated it to the Marciana Library in Venice, where it is safely stored – and cataloged - today.


Alternative Titles
Orationes ex meditationibus et ex Soliloquiis Divi Patris Augustini Episcopi hipponensis. Ad illustrissimum Herculem Ferrariae Ducem
San Agustín de Hipona
Size / Format
384 pages / 18.0 × 11.8 cm
68 miniatures and 130+ gilded and colored initials
Excerpts from the Soliloquia of the Church Father Augustine and the Meditationes of Ps.-Augustine.
Ercole I d'Este (1431-1505)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Jacopo Nani (d. 1796)

Available facsimile editions:
Sant'Agostino Estense – Graffiti – Cod. Lat. II,60 (α 2075) – Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, Italy)
Graffiti – Granarolo dell'Emilia, 2011
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Sant'Agostino Estense

Graffiti – Granarolo dell'Emilia, 2011

Publisher: Graffiti – Granarolo dell'Emilia, 2011
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Ernesto Milano
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). All folios are cut according to the original. The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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