top of page

The Madruzzo Hours


Sold at auction in 2017, put up for sale again on 3 May 2022 by Hartung & Hartung and dismembered shortly afterwards by a German dealer living in the USA (some leaves are still for sale and are even offered by the dealer himself in clandestine auctions organised privately).

Use of Rome, illuminated manuscript in Latin and Italian, on parchment [southern Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1480] 239 leaves (plus a paper endleaf and pastedown at each end), wanting a few single leaves, collation: i4, ii1 (of 2, wants May from Calendar), iii6, iv10, v8, vi10, vii7 (wants a singleton), viii8, ix10, x8, xi9 (a miniature perhaps on a singleton), xii9 (a miniature perhaps on a singleton), xiii9 (iv wanting), xiv9 (miniature on a singleton), xv11 (last a singleton added to complete text), xvi9 (miniature on a singleton), xvii9 (miniature on a singleton), xviii-xxv8, xxvi9 (miniature on a singleton), xxvii8, xxviii3 (but without loss to text), xxix10, xxx3 (last a blank cancel), single column of 14 lines of a fine late Gothic bookhand, in the characteristically rounded form of books produced in the southern Netherlands for wealthy Italian patrons, rubrics in burgundy red, one- and 2-line initials in liquid gold on blue and burgundy grounds, occasional initials with tiny sprays of gold and coloured flowers in the margin, fifteen full-page miniatures by the Wodhull-Harberton Master within thin burgundy arch-topped frames with full borders of acanthus leaves and other foliage inhabited by birds, butterflies, snails and drollery creatures, each miniature facing a text page beginning with a large initial in blue and dark pink heightened with white penwork on brightly burnished gold grounds, thin gold bars forming text frame on three sides, and full decorated borders as before, some small scuffs and chips to paintwork, the corners of some leaves thumbed, overall good and presentable condition, 90 by 65mm., becoming loose in late sixteenth-century or early seventeenth-century embroidered binding of red velvet (worn and balding in places at spine and edges of boards) with the Madruzzo arms surmounted with a crown in appliqué and gold thread (compare the fanfare bindings on printed books made for Count Gian Federico Madruzzo, 1531-86, now in Amsterdam University Library, OTM: Band 2E9, and the British Library, c46a33), some wormholes at spine, remnants of clasp on back board, thin section of wooden edge of front board once with clasp-support broken away Provenance: 1. Evidently made for an Italian client wealthy enough to order a book from an influential artist in the grand production centre of Bruges. The Italian prayer at the end of the book reveals that the patron was a woman ( si grave peccatrice ), and she is probably the noblewoman in a gold dress, kneeling and gazing at Christ in adoration in the scene of the Raising of Lazarus. She may well have been a member of the powerful Madruzzo family, who controlled Trent in the Alto-Adige from the mid-twelfth century onwards. 2. By the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century the book had certainly passed into the hands of the Madruzzo family, and been given an embroidered binding with their arms. The most significant recorded bibliophile in the family was Count Gian Federico Madruzzo (1531-1586), on whom see G.D. Hobson, Les reliures à la fanfare , pp.44-45, and P. Culot, Un bibliophile du Trentin, Gian Federico Madruzzo , Bulletin du bibliophile, 1, 1997, but significantly his more famous relative, Cristoforo Madruzzo (1512-78), is recorded as owning a Book of Hours made in Tours in 1515 (now in Morgan Library, New York, M732, see The Last Flowering (French Paintings in Manuscripts) , 1982, p. 107). Text: The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 13r); the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 19r); the Mass of the Virgin (fol. 25r); Readings from Passion from John (fol. 31v); the Office of the Virgin (fol. 34v); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 136r), followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 163r); the Psalter of Jerome (fol. 208r); the Obsecro te (fol. 222v); Gradual Psalms (fol. 226v); prayer of indulgence in Italian attributed to St. Gregory (fol. 231r). Illumination: The miniatures here were painted by the Wodhull-Harberton Master, named from his work on a Delft Book of Hours of the 1480s (Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Illumination , 1989, no. 89, that once owned by Michael Wodhull and acquired by him from the collection of Henry Viscount Harberton in 1781). The artist was trained in Flanders, perhaps in Bruges, and his work shows his familiarity with the oeuvre of Rogier van den Weyden and Hans Memling. This manuscript must have been produced during his early period in the southern Netherlands. The painting here is all the more impressive for being on such a small scale, producing complex settings and expressive characters with an economy of brushwork and subtle palette. The subjects of the miniatures are: (1) the Crucifixion (fol. 12v); (2) the Pentecost (fol. 18v); (3) the Virgin and Child with Angels (fol.24v); (4) the Annunciation (fol. 33v); (5) the Visitation (fol. 60v); (6) the Nativity (fol. 76v); (7) the Annunciation to the Shepherds (fol. 83v); (8) the Adoration of the Magi (fol. 90v); (9) the Presentation in the Temple (fol. 96v); (10) the Massacre of the Innocents (fol. 102v); (11) the Flight into Egypt (fol. 113v); (12) the Coronation of the Virgin (fol. 122v); (13) King David (fol. 135v); (14) the Raising of Lazarus (fol. 162v); (15) Jerome as a penitent before the Cross (fol. 207v).

Senza titolo (158.75 × 105.833 mm).png



DOI: 10.55456/madruzzohours
Reconstruction in progress

Click here to download the PDF of the article in Italian published in About Art by Prof. Carla Rossi and her team

Senza titolo (158.75 × 105.833 mm) (13).png
bottom of page