OFFICIUM -- Officium, sive Collectio Psalmorum et precum ad usum Herculis Ferrariae Ducis. Edited by Battista Panetti (1439-97). Ferrara: Laurentius de Rubeis, de Valentia, 18 October 1492.
Chancery 8° (148 x 105mm). PRINTED ON VELLUM. Collation: [1-28] (1/1r prefatory matter, 2/1r calendar); aa-ff8 gg4 (Psalter); a-o8 p6 (Proprium de tempore, Proprium de sanctis); A-D8 E4 (Commune sanctorum, E4v colophon, printer's device). 200 leaves (of 208, lacking first quire). Printed in red and black. 24 lines, double column. Type: 2:81G, 3:63G, 4:145G. FINELY ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY FERRARA ARTIST, PERHAPS TOMASSO DA MODENA, with 3 full-page borders: Proper of the Seasons (a1) opening with border with medallion with coat-of-arms and monogram B.G., flower heads, and a vignette with a deer in a winter landscape set within a filigree surround of burnished gold interlacing fillets and greek key borders, pink initial with green foliate terminals on ground of burnished gold with a half-length figure of St. Andrew in the infill; Psalter and Common of the Saints (aa1 and A1) each with full-page border with medallions of a hare in a landscape and a butterfly (aa1) or deer in a winter landscape and a goldfinch (A1), flower heads and gold discs, set within interlacing penwork fillets, the border framed in burnished gold, a pink modelled initial with green foliate terminals on ground of burnished gold with half-length figure of King David (aa1) or figure of an apostle (A1), sixty-seven 3- to 4-line gold initials on coloured ground, 2- to 3-line initials alternating in red or blue with contrasting penwork decoration, smaller initials alternating in red or blue, MS guide-letters. (Lower margin of 2/1 renewed, small, light stains on g2.) English gold-tooled blue morocco of c.1830s, sides with multiple fillet border with rosettes at corners, spine compartments with floral and foliate tools and lettered, multiple fillets on turn-ins, vellum flyleaves, gilt and gauffered edges (one flyleaf detached). Provenance: B.G. (?original unidentified coat-of-arms: Argent three bendlets sinister enhanced Gules).
ONE OF ONLY THREE COPIES KNOWN. This Officium, an abbreviated breviary, contains psalms and prayers specially selected for the use of Ercole I d'Este (1431-1505), 2nd Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio. A profoundly pious ruler, Ercole was responsible for the most important cultural and artistic developments in Ferrara's history. A contemporary account documents his piety in his charitable works, patronage of the arts (particularly music and theatre), and elaborate celebrations of religious festivals, interpreting his religious philanthropy as important evidence of his princely magnificence (Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti, De triumphis religionis, 1497, ed. W. Gundersheimer, in Art and Life at the Court of Ercole I d'Este, Geneva: 1972). Ercole's piety expressed itself explicitly in his ownership of devotional books. He and his family commissioned lavish devotional manuscripts, such as the Bibbia d'Este, a Breviario, and an Officium BMV, initiated by Borbo, Ercule I, and Alfonso I d'Este respectively. Ercole and his wife Eleanora owned multiple copies of breviaries, psalters, missals, officia, and other (primarily manuscript) devotional books (G. Bertoni, La Biblioteca Estense e la cultura ferrarese ai tempi del duca Ercole I (1475-1505), Turin: 1903).
The publication of the present breviary is closely linked to Ercole and his court. Its prayers and offices were adapted for his use, and it was edited by the humanist and Carmelite Battista Panetti, whose monastery of St. Paul enjoyed Ercole's munificence. Furthermore, its exacting two-colour printing on vellum and the fine illumination of the Botfield copy by an artist -- perhaps Tomasso da Modena -- involved in Ercole's grandest commission of a manuscript Breviary exemplify Ercole's patronage of the book arts at the highest level. The two other recorded copies, also on vellum, are at Bologna and Chantilly. Cf. W. Gundersheimer, Ferrara, the Style of a Renaissance Despotism (Princeton: 1973); H.J. Hermann, La miniatura Estense (Modena: 1994), fig. 6; R. Iotti, ed., Gli Estensi, La Corte di Ferrara (Milan: 1997). H 11973; GW 5175; Bohatta Off. 75; Bohatta LB 52=441; Delisle 336; IGI 6964; Brunet IV, 942 (calling for 4 leaves in the first quire, and citing one copy in the Costabili sale, 400Fr); not in Van Praet.