MISSAL OF CARDINAL FRANCESCO BORGIA, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
373 x 258mm. 158 leaves, lacking leaves before 88, 89 and 117, the first two likely to be cancelled blanks and the third a miniature of the Crucifixion, early foliation running from 1-141 including missing three leaves, this foliation followed here, 11 lines of gothic bookhand in black ink between two scored verticals and 12 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 253 x 157mm, rubrics in red, versal initials of several types, either calligraphic ink staves flourished with red or blue penwork, or liquid gold initials on grounds of red or glue decorated with liquid gold fronds and finials, or burnished gold on divided grounds of red, blue and green with yellow decoration, about 110 large two- or three-line illuminated initials with foliate decorated staves of pink, blue and green against grounds of burnished gold and infilled with a foliage spray on a ground of blue or black, occasionally including a bird, with leafy terminals and disks and teardrops of burnished gold extending into the margin, four three- or four-line initials of similar type accompanied by a bar border with foliage sprays and tendrils with golden disks spreading into the upper and lower margins, HISTORIATED INITIAL with Crucified Christ, ENORMOUS INITIAL R WITH THE BORGIA BULL AND EMBLEM AND A FULL-PAGE BORDER fictive cameos and medals and a coat of arms, added text on folios 138-157 with decorated initials only (smudging of outer lower corner of full-page border). Brown morocco with gilt turn-ins by Chambolle-Duru, vellum doublures and endleaves, gilt edges.
1. Cardinal Francesco Borgia (born between 1432 and 1441, died 1511): his arms in the lower border of f.63, 'Divo Fr. Borgia' written in a medallion in the inner border, the red bull from the Borgia shield inhabiting several of the large initials.
Francesco was born in Játiva in Spain, probably the illegitimate child of Alfonso Borgia, Pope Callisto VI. It was when his cousin Rodrigo became pope as Alessandro VI that his career advanced: by 1493 he had been appointed treasurer general of the church, was made archbishop of Cosenza in 1499 and raised to the cardinalate on 28 September 1500. He remained involved in family affairs and accompanied Lucrezia Borgia to Ferrara for her marrriage to Alfonso d'Este. After the death of Alessandro VI in 1593 Francesco took part in Cesare Borgia's desperate attempts to save the family from ruin, but he fell from favour under Julius II and when Cesare was driven from Italy he withdrew from the Curia in Rome. This manuscript, therefore, is likely to have been made between 1500 and 1503.
2. William L. Clements: his armorial ex libris inside upper cover.
3. Robert Hoe: his ex libris inside upper cover and lot 335 in his sale Anderson Auction Company New York, 1912.
Masses for major feasts ff.1-61v: Nativity (three), St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, Circumcision, Purification of the Virgin; Mass of the Resurrection followed by the Ordinary and Canon of the Mass ff.63-140, lacking a folio before Te igitur; Masses for Feast of the Last Supper added in a later bookhand ff.138v-157.
The classicising motifs combined with panels of scrolling foliage and the maskface in the initial on folio 63 identify the illuminator of this manuscript as the Master of Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini. This illuminator is known for his work in other manuscripts made for members of the Curia in Rome in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, including two Missals made for the Cardinal after whom he is named. The Pallavicini Missals were looted during the French occupation of Rome in 1798 and fragments of miniatures and borders from them are dispersed in a number of collections. The borders include cameos, Roman coins and paintings of classical sculpture, among them the earliest representation of the statue of Laocoön and his sons, which was discovered in Rome in January 1506. The present manuscript is a slightly earlier example of the Master's work and the Man of Sorrows in the initial opening Te igitur (f.117) -- which is likely to have once faced a Crucifixion miniature -- shows the robust figure style found in the few miniatures so far known by him.
J. Alexander, 'Illumination for Cardinal Antoniotto Pallavicini (1442-1507)', Illuminating the Book: Makers and Interpreters. Essays in Honour of Janet Backhouse, eds M.P. Brown and S. McKendrick