Ghislieri Book of Hours

London, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 29


+39 333 9860 410

Illuminated Facsimiles

Ghislieri Book of Hours

London, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 29

Alternative titles
Libro d’Ore di Bonaparte Ghislieri – Book of Hours of Perugino – Albani Hours – Stundenbuch des Bonaparte Ghislieri – Stundenbuch des Perugino.
Physical features
Codex on parchment, dimensions 205 x 150 mm, 137 folios – including f. 132 with the miniature by Perugino, which is currently kept separately.
Post-1600. Engraved leather, medallions with miniatures on the outer boards (the Archangel Gabriel on the upper board, the Virgin Mary on the lower board) and inner boards (Caius Julius Caesar on both boards), silver ties and cornerpieces.
Italy (Bologna), 15th16th century (ca. 1500).
The manuscript was commissioned by Bonaparte Ghislieri (b. ?, d. 1541), a member of the noble Ghislieri family from Bologna. His initials BP and GI are discernible in the lower section of f. 16r.
Subsequent owners
In the 19th century the manuscript was part of the collection of Cardinal Giuseppe Albani (b. 1750, d. 1834). In 1838 James Dennistoun (b. 1803, d. 1855) – a Scottish antiquarian and collector – bought it from the Cardinal’s heirs and sold it the same year to Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (b. 1797, d. 1878). His son Bertram Ashburnham, 5th Earl of Ashburnham (b. 1840, d. 1913), sold the manuscript collection on his father’s death. In 1897 the Ghislieri Book of Hours was bought by the English journalist and collector Henry Yates Thompson (b. 1838, d. 1928), already the owner of an important collection of manuscripts, prints and rare books. Among the most important works in his rich collection was the Divine Comedy of Alfonso V of Aragon.
Present repository
After the death of Henry Yates Thompson, his wife donated the collection to the British Library in 1941, where the manuscript is currently preserved under the shelfmark Ms. Yates Thompson 29.
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 usually began with the Calendar and revolved around the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Pietro Antonio Sallando (b. c. 1460, d. c. 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 Durazzo Book of Hours. The Bolognese writer Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti (b. c. 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 believe the world has).
12 bas-de-page portraits on the recto of the Calendar folios. Among them – according to some scholars – the character on f. 7r could be identified with Virgilio Ghislieri (b. 1469, d. 1523), Bonaparte’s father. 4 full-page miniatures set within borders decorated predominantly with grotesques: Adoration of the Shepherds (f. 15v), Annunciation (f. 74v), David playing an instrument – probably a dulcimer (f. 104v), St. Jerome in the desert (f. 127v). A fifth miniature depicting the martyrdom of St. Sebastian (f. 132v) and attributed to Perugino, has been detached from the body of the manuscript and is now preserved separately with the shelfmark «Yates Thompson 29, f. 132». 15 large historiated initials set within full or partial decorated borders. The decoration of the manuscript is also enriched by further borders and initials of different workmanship.
The miniature on f. 15v was executed by Amico Aspertini, also called Amerigo Aspertini (b. c. 474, d. 1552), who signed himself «Amicus Bononiensis» in the cartouche on the right border. The miniature on f. 132r was painted by Pietro Perugino, born Pietro Vannucci (b. 1448, d. 1523). His signature can be identified at the bottom of the illuminated scene. The miniature on f. 74v, all historiated initials and the 12 portraits included in the calendar, were executed by Matteo da Milano. The miniature on f. 15v is attributed to Mariano del Buono (b. 1433, d. 1504).
Italian Renaissance.

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles®



Il Libro d’Ore di Bonaparte Ghislieri

Publisher – Franco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 2007), by concession of the British Library.
Series – Biblioteca Impossibile.
Limited edition – The facsimile has been published in a unique limited edition of 980 copies overall 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 binding corresponds to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Commentary – Commentary in Italian, 21 x 15 cm, 247 pages, colour photos. Essays by Giancarlo Benevolo, Peter Kidd, Massimo Medica. Edited by Massimo Medica.
Slipcase – The facsimile and the commentary volume are housed in an elegant double compartment slipcase.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate of authenticity with the copy number is attached on the colophon of the facsimile and authenticated by the Publisher and the British Library.
ISBN – 978-88-8290-989-5 (commentary).

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles®, Franco Cosimo Panini Editore

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Franco Cosimo Panini Editore