BOOK OF HOURS (Use of Rome); illuminated medieval manuscript with three historiated initials by an artist influenced by Battista di Niccolò da Padova (active in Florence, 1438-1452)
by Catholic Church
COLORFUL BIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES TEEM IN THE MARGINS OF THIS CHARMING LITTLE BOOK OF HOURS, WITH ILLUMINATIONS SHOWING THE INFLUENCE OF SEVERAL IMPORTANT FLORENTINE ARTISTS. Illuminated manuscript on parchment in Latin and Italian, Italy, Florence, c. 1450. 119 x 78 mm. 219 folios on parchment, missing at least five leaves, perhaps with miniatures, written in brown ink in a rounded Italian Gothic bookhand, capitals touched faintly in yellow, rubrics in red, 1-line paraphs in blue, 1-line initials in red and blue, 2- to 4-line initials in red and blue with contrasting penwork, fourteen decorated 4- to 5-line initials in pale pink, blue, pale purple, or orange on burnished gold grounds with foliate in-filling and acanthus extensions in blue, green, red, pale pink, and orange, often terminating in sprays of burnished gold disks on fine hairline stems, some with birds or butterflies, THREE HISTORIATED INITIALS of 4 to 11 lines in blue or pale pink on burnished gold grounds with foliate decoration in burnished gold, blue, green, red, pale pink, and pale purple extending into FULL BORDERS of acanthus, with sprays of flowers, burnished gold disks, birds, and butterflies. BINDING: Sixteenth- or seventeenth-century parchment over pasteboard, spine with three raised bands and inscription, "Officio de la Maria," in dark brown ink, traces of two fore-edge attachments. ILLUSTRATION: The delicate and brightly hued illuminations within this lovely and well-preserved Book of Hours exemplify the beauty of Florentine illumination around the middle of the fifteenth century. Its illuminator follows in the tradition of such outstanding Florentine manuscript illuminators as Zanobi Strozzi and Fra Angelico, though the work is closer in quality to that produced by the artists who collaborated on the illumination of four large Choir Book (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Edili 148-151) for Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. The illuminations in our manuscript show the particular influence of Battista di Niccolò da Padova and the so-called Maestro della Trinità Edili 150 (possibly identifiable with Benedetto di Silvestro, active between 1445 and 1473), both artists involved in this massive undertaking. It is possible our illuminator also contributed to these four spectacular volumes, executed between 1445 and 1477/78. The cycle of historiated initials here, featuring the Virgin and Child (f. 15), the crucifix (f. 190), and King David (f. 194), is common within Italian Books of Hours of the period, and similar initials very likely once graced the openings of the Office of the Dead and Hours of the Cross. PROVENANCE: Produced in Florence around the middle of the fifteenth century, as indicated by decoration and the inclusion of important Florentine feast days in the calendar. Probably made for Vallombrosan use, likely at one of the Vallombrosan houses in and around Florence. Multiple entries in sixteenth-century hands. Belonged to Antonio Caracciolo, a seventeenth-century Italian scholar. CONDITION: Some cropping of borders along upper and outer edges, slight rubbing or staining on a few pages, otherwise in very fine condition. Full description and photographs available (BOH 108).
(Inventory #: BOH108)
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