(active 1451, d. ca. 1479, Bologna)

Bible of Borso d'Este

Manuscript (Ms. VG 12 lat. 422-23), 375 x 265 mm
Biblioteca Estense, Modena

This deluxe illuminated Bible was commissioned by Borso d'Este (1413-1471), Duke of Ferrara, from Taddeo Crivelli who worked with his assistant Franco de' Russi. The Bible was produced in two large volumes at two different rates of remuneration, the higher one reserved for the opening pages of each book of the Bible.

This picture shows the opening page of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. It is clearly marked on a fluttering orange ribbon in the centre of the upper border and in red lettering in the left column. An enormous floriated initial begins the text itself, surrounded in the border by equally brilliant, nearly enamelled flowers laid on a ground of fine gold filigree. Teardrop-shaped openings reveal heraldic imagery; a deer and leopard in the upper corners reclining on woven baskets of green grass recall much prior courtly imagery. Lavender cornucopias and a golden vase improbably but splendidly tie the border to an equally fantastic but more illusionistic landscape and pavilion below.