Durazzo Book of Hours

Genoa, Biblioteca Civica Berio, m.r. C.f. Arm. I


+39 333 9860 410


Illuminated Facsimiles

Durazzo Book of Hours

Genoa, Biblioteca Civica Berio, m.r. C.f. Arm. I

Alternative titles
Libro de Horas Durazzo – Durazzo-Stundenbuch – Stundenbuch des Marcello Durazzo – Livre d’Heures Durazzo – Libro d’Ore Durazzo – Offiziolo Durazzo.
Physical features
Codex on purple parchment, dimensions 143 x 96 mm, 213 folios (438 pages) numbered in pencil, 6 unnumbered flyleaves (4 initial, 2 final), gilt edge.
In 1957 the binding was restored by Erminia Caudana, who replaced the original wooden boards with crimson velvet-covered vetroflex boards. The chiselled (and partly gilded) silver frame is the original from the 16th century. The metal elements form an eight-part frame: four square plates with foliate bosses are fixed to the corners, while the four edges feature grotesque decorations with candelabras, mascarons and plant and animal motifs. On the central velvet panel, palmettes stand out from the corners and inner sides of the frame. Two chiselled ruby-set ties are fixed to the fore edge of the front board. It is plausible that the precious binding was produced by Francesco Marmitta (b. 1464, d. 1505), the author of the miniatures.
Italy (Parma, maybe Venice), early 16th century.
Patronage and owners
The manuscript is of uncertain provenance. One hypothesis is that it was commissioned by a Venetian magistrate to be acquired not long after by a Parma collector. Another hypothesis is that the patron was also from Parma. In any case, there is evidence that the codex was already in Parma at the beginning of the 16th century, thanks to a painting by Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, known as Parmigianino (b. 1503, d. 1540), now in the National Gallery in London. The Portrait of a Collector (ca. 1524) depicts a man who – seated at an inlaid table on which medals, a coin and a statuette of a female deity are resting – holds the manuscript in his left hand. It is also uncertain whether Jacopo Marmitta (b. 1504, d. 1561) – second son of Francesco Marmitta, author of the miniatures – later took the codex to Portugal. In the 19th century, the manuscript was certainly in Italy: in 1826, Marcello Luigi Durazzo d’Ippolito (b. 1790, d. 1848) bought it from the merchant Antonio Bacigalupo for the sum of 1,310.10 lire, as recorded in a notebook in which he noted down his expenses. In 1847 Marcello Durazzo bequeathed the codex to the Biblioteca Civica Berio in Genoa.
Present repository
The manuscript is still preserved in the Biblioteca Civica Berio. The name Libro d’Ore Durazzo (or Offiziolo Durazzo) derives from the 1847 donation of Marcello Durazzo to the Genoese library.
ChristianityPrivate devotional books.
A book of hours is a collection of prayers for the use of the laity. It is often referred to as offiziolo (little office) a term that is to be understood in contrast to the Great Office, which was the set of prayers that the clergy were required to recite daily. The books of hours revolved around the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to which elements of different recurrence were added. The Durazzo Book of Hours opens with the Calendar (ff. 1r-12v), followed by the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the custom of Rome (ff. 15r-107v), the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ff. 109r-118r), the Office of the Dead (ff. 119r-166r), the Office of the Holy Spirit (ff. 168r-172r), the Seven Penitential Psalms (ff. 175r-191r), the Litany (ff. 191r-204r), the Office of the Cross (ff. 205r-212v).
Littera antiqua tonda. The codex is a rare example of chrysography (from the Greek χρυσογραϕία, a compound of χρυσός «gold» and -γραϕία «-graphy»). The writing was in fact penned in gold, through a technique that involved the use of gold powder mixed with gum or egg white. So that the colour of the ink would stand out sufficiently, a parchment dyed in a darker colour was often used: usually purple, but also black or blue. In the case of the Durazzo Book of Hours, a purple parchment was used, which was also of very high quality.
Pietro Antonio Sallando (b. 1460, d. 1540). He was originally from Reggio Emilia and moved to Bologna in 1489 where he taught grammar and lived until his death. He was the owner of a flourishing workshop, as confirmed by the numerous manuscripts he copied that have come down to us – among which it is worth mentioning the Book of Hours of Bonaparte Ghislieri, now in the British Library in London. The Bolognese writer Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti (b. 1443, d. 1510), in a letter to Isabella d’Este (b. 1474, d. 1539), describes Sallando as «il più excellente scriptore credo habia il mondo» (the most excellent scribe I think the world has).
The Calendar (ff. 1r-12v) is decorated with two vignette miniatures for each month: one depicts the corresponding sign of the zodiac, the other the agricultural work carried out at that time of year. There are 6 full-page miniatures (ff. 13v, 108v, 118v, 167v, 174v, 204v). There are also architectural frontispieces, grotesque-decorated borders, other kinds of miniatures and more than 200 initials in the text, some initials inserted in the miniatures or in the border decoration.
The miniatures were produced by the Parma painter and illuminator Francesco Marmitta (b. 1464, d. 1505). It is possible that the precious binding was also produced by Marmitta, who was in fact also a carver and jeweller. The Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari (b. 1511, d. 1574), in his famous work Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori (The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects), mentions Francesco Marmitta about his activity as a carver.
External links
The National Gallery (Parmigianino, Portrait of a Collector, ca. 1524).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles®



Il Libro d’Ore Durazzo. Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis cum Kalendario

Publisher – Franco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 2008), by concession of the Biblioteca Civica Berio.
Series – Biblioteca Impossibile.
Limited edition – The facsimile has been published in a unique and unrepeatable edition of 980 copies in total for worldwide distribution. The publisher guarantees that no further copies will be made.
Type of reproduction – Full-size colour reproduction of the entire original document. The facsimile reproduces the physical characteristics of the original manuscript as closely as possible, with the aim of substituting it in scientific research and in the libraries of bibliophile collectors.
Binding – The facsimile binding faithfully reproduces that of the original manuscript.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, size 15 x 21 cm, 335 pages, colour plates in the text. Essays by Andrea De Marchi, Davide Gasparotto, Federica Toniolo, Laura Nuvoloni, Beatrice Bentivoglio-Ravasio, Laura Malfatto. Contents: Tra bellezza e mistero; Francesco Marmitta tra Roma e Bologna, un florilegio di eleganze all’antica; Parma e la maniera «antico-moderna» tra Quattro e Cinquecento; Oro e colori sulla porpora: valenze antiquarie e risonanze simboliche di una scelta esemplare; Pier Antonio Sallando o «il più excellente scriptore credo habia il mondo»; Un’introduzione al codice; L’Offiziolo Durazzo, patrimonio della Biblioteca Berio; Scheda codicologica; Il contenuto e la decorazione dell’Offiziolo Durazzo; Bibliografia.
Slipcase – The facsimile and the commentary volume are housed in an elegant double-compartment slipcase.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate with the copy number is printed in the colophon and is authenticated by the Publisher and the Biblioteca Civica Berio.
ISBN – 978-88-248-0444-8.

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles®, Franco Cosimo Panini Editore

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Franco Cosimo Panini Editore