Farnese Lectionary


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Illuminated Facsimiles

Farnese Lectionary

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Lezionario Farnese – Towneley Lectionary – Lectionnaire Farnèse – Farnese-Lektionar – Leccionario Farnese.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, size 487 x 338 mm., 128 folios (64 pages).
BINDING – Nineteenth-century neo-Gothic style binding in red velvet with cornerpieces and clasps. Gilt medallions with the Towneley family crest in the centre of the front and rear plates.
ORIGIN – Italy (Rome).
DATING – Mid 16th century.
PATRONAGE – The manuscript was commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (b. 1520, d. 1589), who went down in history as the Gran Cardinale because of his prestigious artistic commissions.
SUBSEQUENT OWNERS – Before being stolen in the Napoleonic era, the manuscript was long used by the College of Cardinals as the Missal for liturgical celebrations in the Sistine Chapel. It is also known as the Towneley Lectionary, named after the family that last owned it before its transfer to the New York Public Library.
GENRE – Christianity, Liturgical books.
CONTENT – Collection of readings from Sacred Scripture to be read in liturgical celebrations.
SCRIPT – Littera antiqua rotunda.
SCRIBE – The hands of six different scribes can be identified, two of whom are possibly Giovan Francesco Cresci and Marc’Antonio Rossi.
DECORATION – The precious codex includes no less than 6 full-page miniatures (the Nativity, the Sermon on the Mount, the Order to St. Peter ‘Feed My Sheep’, the Resurrection, Pentecost, the Last Judgement), 6 miniatures of the Evangelists (St. Luke, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. John), and elaborate frames decorated with drawings and human figures.
ILLUMINATOR – Giorgio Giulio Clovio (Juraj Julije Klović), born in Grižane (in present-day Croatia) in 1498. Giorgio Vasari describes him as a «piccolo e nuovo Michelagnolo» (small and new Michelangelo). He died in Rome in 1578: his tomb is in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, the church that contains Michelangelo’s famous Moses.
STYLE – Renaissance.
EXTERNAL LINKS – The New York Public Library Digital Collections (digitized manuscript).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

Michelangelo Buonarroti


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 corresponds to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
PublisherFranco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 2008).
Limited edition – 550 copies.
Commentary – Alexander, Jonathan J. G.; Barker, Nicholas; Calvillo, Elena M.; Wainwright, Clive; Towneley, Sir Simon. Commentary in Italian language.
Slipcase (Italian) – The facsimile and the commentary volume are contained in a cloth-covered hardback slipcase.

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles

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Franco Cosimo Panini Editore