Breviary According to the Roman Curia


This manuscript, Breviarium secundum Romanae Curiae (Breviary according to the Roman Curia), is one of the most important and representative of the miniature style of Ferrara in the later period, with influences from the Flemish and Lombard schools. Made up of 11 folios richly and lavishly decorated and illuminated, it was copied on very fine parchment in Gothic script in two columns by Andrea delle Vieze (also seen as dalla Vieze or Veze) in 1502‒4. It includes 247 initials that are typical of the Ferrara school, 31 in color and 171 in gold leaf and blue and green inks. The illuminations are by Matteo da Milano, Tommaso da Modena, and Cesare delle Vieze (son of Andrea). The breviary was commissioned by and belonged to Ercole I d'Este, the duke of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio (ruled 1471‒1505). The decorations are consistent with the contents of the manuscript, but the frame also shows coats of arms and emblems that were dear to Ercole and that were reflective of his political and religious program. For the same reason, Ercole's son, Alfonso I, wanted his own name to appear on the breviary after the death of his father, not only as a note of possession, but also as a witness to the continuing glory of their lineage. Alfonso had his emblems superimposed on the earlier ones, which are now visible on the verso of the parchment leaves. The codex was housed in the royal Estense Library until 1859, when, at the arrival of the Piedmontese army, Francesco V of Este left Modena in order to seek refuge in Vienna. After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the last heir of the Estense family, Carlo I of Hapsburg, carried the codex with him when he went into exile. In 1939, the breviary was given back to the Italian State and the royal Estense Library.

Last updated: October 17, 2017