The Farnese Hours, with its twenty-six full-page illuminations and thirty-seven opulently decorated text, is the most important manuscript from the Italian Renaissance and Mannerist art. Crafted in Rome around 1546, it was produced in a city where unparalleled geniuses such as Raphael and Michelangelo were the champions of a new artistic era.
The most respected and distinguished illuminator of the time was the Croatian Giulio Clovio, who adorned the Farnese Hours with unprecedented illuminations that seem monumental and subtle at the same time. Clovio was so famous during his age that he was nicknamed the "new Michelangelo" or the "Raphael of miniature painting." Clovio crafted this extremely intimate prayer book for cardinal Alessandro Farnese, possibly the greatest sixteenth-century art patron.
The Farnese Hours: Commissioned by a Renaissance Patron of the Arts
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589) was the descendant of one of the most influential families in Renaissance Rome, who even counted a pope among its ranks, Paul III. He was behind some of his time's greatest artistic achievements, as he commissioned works in every field of the arts. One of the masterpieces he requested to be produced was the Farnese Hours, one of the most precious manuscripts ever made.
The Best Mixture of Renaissance and Mannerist Elements
The twenty-six full-page, monumental facing miniatures display a unique and extraordinary mixture of Renaissance and Mannerist elements, with beautiful gold inserts and bright colors combining together. The illuminations are coupled according to the same typology – each episode from the Old Testament faces one taken from the New Testament. Another incredible feature of the Farnese Hours is its borders, which enclose the thirty-seven illustrated text pages by means of landscapes, naturalistic still lives, imposing portraits, and incredible grotesques.
We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Farnese Hours":
- Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Standard Edition) facsimile edition published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 2001
- Das Farnese-Stundenbuch (Deluxe Edition) facsimile edition published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 2001