Once Biblioteca Estense Univeristaria, Modena, illuminated manuscript on parchment, cm 9x12
BOOK OF HOURS OF RENEE DE FRANCE
Les petites prières of the duchess of Ferrara
A ‘recovered’ treasure
Written and illuminated in the Parisian area around 1517 for Renée de Valois, daughter of the king of France, the manuscript reached Ferrara in 1528, part of the dowry of the new duchess, as wife of Ercole II d’Este. In 1560, when she abjured Catholicism and left Ferrara to retire to Montargis, a refuge of Calvinists and Huguenots, her books were burnt, with the exception of those few in accordance with Catholicism, including this little book of hours. It remained in the Estense Library until 1994 when it was lent out for an exhibition in Montecassino, subsequently stolen, and never found. Fortunately, a photographic reproduction of the work was already available by then: with the realization of the facsimile, Renée’s treasure has been ideally recovered.
A masterpiece of illumination
The Book of Hours of Renée of France represents one of the most precious books of hours of the early 16th century, splendid masterpieces still in vogue in the European courts even after the invention of printing. It is thought to be dated circa 1517 and ascribed to the ‘Maître de Claude de France’, who illuminated the manuscripts of Renée’s sister, queen of France.
The unabridged facsimile codex, 9 × 12 cm, presented by Federico Zeri, printed using eight colours, is endowed with a rich and elegant binding that faithfully reproduces the 18th century original in antique pink velvet, with silver thread embroidery and ties. The codex, the 160 page commentary, containing a study by E. Milano – with transcription and translation of the texts –, and the certificate of authenticity are boxed together in a delightful wooden case covered with decorated leather. This unique and unrepeatable world exclusive edition is limited to 999 numbered and certified copies.
Another 66 copies, numbered a to z and i to xl/ce, are reserved for the publishers.