Officium of pope Benedetto XIV

Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis of pope Benedetto XIV

ms. 1140

Bologna, University Library

Limited Edition: 499 copies

  • Dimensions 195×130 mm
  • Century XV, cc. 156
  • Stampa fine art
  • Applicazione dell’oro in lamina
  • Carta pergamena trattata a mano
  • Incassatura su carta antica
  • Cucitura artigianale su corde
  • Legatura in pelle con fregi in oro a caldo
  • Taglio in oro

In primers, often made for noble and wealthy patrons, the most refined and elegant expressions of the 15th century miniature are frequently found.

This example, belonged to Pope Benedetto XIV and ascribable to the end of 15th century (see, for example, the sure mastery of perspective in architectural backgrounds and illustrations), has been attributed to an anonymous “Gebetsbuchmeister” (Master of the books of prayers) of Flemish ambit.

The decoration presents an indisputable quality, both in the large miniatures, where the figures in the foreground have a marked pictorial character, both in the friezes, which present floral elements enclosed in lozenge-shaped frames and backgrounds of various colors (blue, pink, green, red) instead of traditional golden backgrounds.

Also noteworthy is the initial calendar, where the scenes that illustrate the agricultural work of the various months are particularly valuable; here, next to the name of the month, there are also “some sentences, with the apparent cadence of proverbs, and instead attesting to the widespread diffusion of medieval ‘sayings’ tradition, of rather ancient origin since it remains a written attestation since 1300.