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The finest volume of illumination work in the world


The Bible of Borso d'Este

Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Mss. Lat. 422 e Lat.423

Dating back to 1455-1461, this Bible (produced for the Duke of Ferrara, Borso d’Este) is the most beautiful of all Renaissance codices. In this work, for the first time, the art of book illustration responds to the new trends of the Renaissance and its artistic language, infusing the fantasies and fineries of the late Gothic period with a new spirit of rationality.

A number of the major artists of the times contributed to this Bible, thus producing a work that would, for hundreds of years to come, celebrate the splendour of the Este court and the munificence of its Duke.

The illuminators, including the renowned Taddeo Crivelli and Franco dei Russi, embellished the recto and verso of each leaf. We note here an awareness of the new (Tuscan) rules concerning perspective, and considerable attention to natural detail (a typically Flemish trait). The friezes present many marvellous mythological, animal and heraldic decorative motifs.

We may consider the Bibbia di Borso d’Este – unrivalled by contemporary works and of truly astounding worth – a veritable gallery of the art of the Renaissance.

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