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ArtCodex atelier del codice miniato

Book of Hours by Mary Stuart

Ms.62 (beginning of the 16th century)
Classense Library, Ravenna
biblioteca Classense di Ravenna


Presentazione video del volume

A royal codex: The suggestion of the name “Maria Stuarda Regina di Scozia” (Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) that appears on the first flyleaf relates the manuscript conserved in the Classense Library of Ravenna to one of the most fascinating and dramatic female figures of 16th-century Europe.
A rich and elegant book of hours The elegant little codex, which contains the various liturgical Offices reunited under the conventional name of book of hours dedicated to the Madonna, is composed of 179 leaves in very high-quality, fine, and delicate parchment. The clear and elegant writing of the Latin text is united with the refined decoration, concentrated in the twelve leaves of the calendar that illustrate the months, and in the rich pages that indicate the most important sections of the text, identifying its beginning.
The works of men and women in the days of the calendar: Following a consolidated tradition, the calendar scenes are inspired by the male and female work characteristic of the yearly seasons; they are distinguished, however, by the vivacious and realistic manner of representing the work in the fields, the moments of conviviality, the social life, and the activities of the merchant and artisan, as in a photograph album.
The experience and elegance of the Flemish in the 41 illuminated leaves: Attended to in all its details, elegant in its layout, and refined in its structure, the manuscript makes its appearance as a product of noteworthy craftsmanship, emerging from an expert and well organized workshop, which utilizes with spontaneity an expressive language that is mature and accomplished, by then in the beginning of the 16th century. The numerous initials decorated with motifs of plant life and even the tiny letters with their small dimensions have a rich and precious appearance.
It is, however, in the more demanding pages that is revealed the quality of the refined hand that painted all the great miniatures and orchestrated the borders, many of which with surprising trompe-l’oeil effects. The manner of representing the personalities of the sacred scene with strong expressive tones, an attention to detail, and an admirable use of perspective and of spatial illusions, which construct bold architectonic backgrounds and panoramic landscape views, all confirm the quality of the Flemish workshops, specialized in this type of production for which they are rightly famous.
A sumptuous illustrative legacy: The reader’s eye is captivated by the extraordinary repertoire of flowers, fruits, insects, and birds that populate the marginal borders, realized with extreme attention, with an obsessive care for detail and for an adherence to reality, without however forgetting the symbolic and allegorical tie that binds the living universe to the liturgy. The complex web of relations between faith and nature is disclosed in the fluttering wings of the butterflies, the jump of the caterpillar, and the juicy strawberries; one can enjoy recognizing the kinds of flowers and animals because the painter has reproduced them perfectly, while in the world one will find the imprint of God.
It is suggestive to imagine that our same emotions may have been felt also by a queen while praying with these luminous pages in her hands.

Characteristics of the facsimile

  • Integral reproduction in pure 23kt gold on cartaPergamena of the codex realized by the ArtCodex® Atelier of the Illuminated Codex.
  • Volume format: 7 x 10 cm.
  • Nr. of illuminated leaves: 41 full-page illuminations, numerous gold initials.

The gold-colored foil

The decoration in gold, applied with the patented ArtCodex® system of spreading gold-colored foil, appears embossed as in the original codex, as though it had undergone the effects of time.
Each detail is faithfully reproduced, from the engravings to the gold designs, from the gold dust wrought with a brush to the plating with gold leaf: the splendid effect obtained is that of a harmonic chromatic fusion between the gold details and the brilliant iconographic elements of the miniatures.

Binding and cover

The process of binding the codices is realized by adopting the customs of the ancient artisan binderies. The work processes, conducted in handicraft workshops that still preserve the antique manual press, correspond to the hand sewing of the headband and leaves, with an absolute respect for the trimming of the manuscript pages. Lastly, the cover is reproduced in facsimile with a rigorous respect for all the characteristics of the original: each process is carried out by hand, while respecting the foliation of the codex and utilizing the materials of the period.

The cartaPergamena®

The type of parchmented paper adopted, whose peculiarity guarantees that each single sheet is equal to the original, is produced by a trusted paper mill: the cartaPergamena®, following an “ageing” treatment, recreates the same effect of movement that the passing of time has brought about on the original. The color of the parchment is then faithfully reproduced in the printing stage: each sign of the time - such as folds, spots, or transparencies - is reproposed exactly, contributing to enhance the codex with the same sensation of antiquity that characterizes the medieval manuscript.