The Jewel of Renaissance Lombardy

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Did you know that the illuminator of this precious book of hours helped Leonardo da Vinci paint the Virgin of the Rocks? Find out more in today’s Alumina article!

Very small in size, this extraordinary book of hours preserved at the Bibliothèque du ChâteauChantilly, is a remarkable work because of the preciousness of its illuminations and binding, representing a rare example of Italian production of books of hours.

A double-page opening of the Torriani Book of Hours

A lady of the noble house of Torriani who joined the entourage of the court of the Sforzas at the end of the fifteenth century; an elegant book of hours, produced by the workshop of the greatest goldsmiths and illuminators of Renaissance Lombardy; a turbulent historical affair which sees the precious little book of private devotion shunted from pillar to post, from Italy to France, from Milan to Paris, from the Sforza castle to Chantilly castle; and now a beautiful facsimile, thanks to which an Italian masterpiece from the past is reborn on its home soil through the feats of technology and craftsmanship of modern facsimile publishing.


This elegant book of hours was produced by the workshop of the greatest goldsmiths and illuminators of Renaissance Lombardy.


Despite the reduced dimensions (the cover measures 8.2 x 6.5 cm), the Libro d’Ore Torriani can be considered an authentic jewel, not only for its delectable trousseau of illuminations, work of the Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis’ Milan workshop, but above all for the precious binding in gilt silver, ivory, enamel and precious stones, masterpiece of late-fifteenth-century Lombard gold smithery and an almost intact example of the different artistic techniques involved in the production of a luxury manuscript at the dawn of the age of print.

Saints Catherine and Lucy who adorn the covers of the binding back up the theory that it belonged to a female of high rank, almost certainly Milanese due to the fact that the festival of Saint Ambrose is marked on the calendar.


Text written by Lia Cesareo for Alumina — Pagine Miniate.

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