ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Biblia Latina – Bibbia di Borso d’Este – Bible de Borso d’Este – Bíblia de Borso d’Este – Bibel des Borso d’Este.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Parchment manuscript in 2 volumes, dimensions 375 x 265 mm, 604 folios in total (1208 pages).
BINDING – Binding on wooden boards, crimson velvet cover with gilded silver elements, parchment flyleaves.
ORIGIN – Italy (Ferrara).
DATING – 15th century (1455-1461).
PATRONAGE – The Bible was commissioned by Borso d’Este (b. 1413, d. 1471), the first Duke of Modena and Reggio and later of Ferrara.
SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPT – With the Devolution of Ferrara in 1598, the city was annexed to the Pontifical State and the Este family had to transfer the seat of ducal power from Ferrara to Modena. The Bible was also transferred to Modena, where it remained until 1859, when the Duchy of Modena and Reggio was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Duke of Modena Francis V (b. 1819, d. 1875), leaving Modena to flee first to Mantua and then to Austria, in fact took the precious Bible with himself. In 1923, the entrepreneur Giovanni Treccani degli Alfieri (b. 1877, d. 1961) purchased the Bible for a sum of approximately 5 million lire. At that time, the manuscript was in Paris, and the John Pierpont Morgan Library in New York had already shown interest in acquiring it. Giovanni Treccani wanted to prevent this acquisition, because he believed that the Bible should be brought back to Italy. Through the Italian antiquarian and bibliophile Tammaro De Marinis (b. 1878, d. 1969), he therefore entered the negotiations and made the deal. Upon his return to Italy, he finally donated the manuscript to the Italian state.
PRESENT REPOSITORY – After the donation of Giovanni Treccani, the two volumes of the Bible of Borso d’Este were transferred to the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria in Modena, where they are still located under the shelf-marks Ms. Lat. 422 and Ms. Lat. 423.
GENRE – Christianity, Bibles / Gospels.
LANGUAGE – Latin.
SCRIPT – Gothic Rotunda.
SCRIBE – The copying of the Bible was entrusted to Pietro Paolo Marone, an established scribe from Bologna who had already worked for important patrons. His works include the missal commissioned by Gianlucido Gonzaga (b. 1421, d. 1448) and known today as the Missal of Barbara of Brandenburg, which Marone finished copying in 1452.
DECORATION – Each page is sumptuously decorated with illuminated scenes, historiated or variously decorated initials, borders adorned with geometric motifs, plant decorations, candelabras and medallions.
ILLUMINATORS – The lavish decoration was created by a group of artists led by the Ferrarese illuminator Taddeo Crivelli (b. 1425, d. 1479). The other artists who worked with Crivelli on the Bible were Franco dei Russi, Giorgio d’Alemagna, Marco Avogaro and Girolamo da Cremona (b. ?, d. post 1483).
STYLE – Renaissance.
EXTERNAL LINKS – Estense Digital Library: Mss. Lat. 422 and Lat. 423 (digitized manuscript) – Manus Online (detail sheet).
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Rossi, Giovanni dell’Avogaro dell’Avogadro, Marono
Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher – Franco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 1997).
Series – Biblioteca Impossibile.
Limited edition – 750 copies.
Commentary – Commentary volume in two tomes edited by Silvia Panini.
Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles