Illuminated manuscript on parchment, 1390, cm 15x21, 544 pages, embroidered cover.
MASTER OF MODENA HOURS
An extraordinary masterpiece of Italian Gothic art
The Officium Virginis of Modena is a Lombard book of hours dated 1390. It was written on fine, thin parchment, 15 × 21 cm, and is made up of 272 sheets (i.e. 544 pages), of which 28 are full page illuminations picturing saints and religious feasts, and 15 are bordered by vegetation patterned decorations and by illuminated scenes from the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The decoration includes, moreover, some 2,500 illuminated initials, of which 1,350 are in gold leaf, 532 larger and gilt initials, and 300 endpage marks, most of which are also gilded. The writing, with indexed headings, is in rotunda Gothic script. The codex starts with the calendar and continues with the traditional contents of an Officium Beatae Virginis, in compliance with the Roman rite.
The client was a rich Milanese nobleman, Balzarino de Pusterla – ambassador and courtier of Filippo Maria Visconti – whose coat-of-arms appears on f. 12r. During the 18th century, however, the book entered the marquis Obizzi del Catajo’s refined collection, which was donated to the Estense Library in 1817.
This masterpiece among illuminated manuscripts is ascribable to the golden age of international Gothic. Its illuminations have recently been attributed to Tomasino da Vimercate who worked for the Visconti court and, in the last decade of the 1300s, in the Milan workshop of Giovannino de Grassi, and who expressed in this Estense Officium the highest levels of his art, always original, surprisingly elegant and particularly gentle in representing the female figures.
A princely embroidered binding
The beautiful and sumptuous red silk binding is embroidered with decorative borders along the spine and on the sides, in gold, silver and coloured silk thread. A framed bust of the Virgin Mary is embroidered in the centre of the front cover, while the coat-of-arms of the owner is in the centre on the back. This binding, probably made for an important member of the court in the 16 th century, represents itself a masterpiece for its rareness and magnificente. A transparent case allows the cover to be fully admired in its amazing splendour. In case of order, you can choose among left (wood and plexiglass) or right (only plexiglass). Please specify your choice in notes field.
Our facsimile edition
The facsimile edition of the Master of Modena Hours is realized in partnership with the Estense Library under licence of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Like each of our facsimile editions, high technology and ancient manual abilities worked together in order to restore a superb art creation. Every phase of the reproduction – photographs, digitalization, colour editing, printing on special paper, application of gold leaves, profiled cut of the pages with the same shape as the original codex – was carried out with the most advanced technologies together with our creative solutions; whereas the binding – embroidery, stitching, and goldsmith cut – was manufactured by the hands of skilled craftsmen, in order to give collectors that same quality that the ancient patrons expected from the great masters.