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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Farnese Hours image

Adoration of the Shepherds; Fall of Man
Farnese Hours, in Latin
Illuminated by Giulio Clovio (1498–1578)
Italy, Rome, dated 1546
6 3/4 x 4 3/8 inches (173 x 110 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1903; MS M.69 (fols. 26v–27r)
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The Farnese Hours, the last great Italian Renaissance manuscript, was highly praised in Vasari's Lives of the Painters (1568). Of Clovio, a Croatian, Vasari said that there "has never been . . . a more rare painter of little things," calling him a "new, if smaller Michelangelo." Here the bareness of the Adoration of the Shepherds is contrasted with the lushness of paradise. The dramatic light generated by Jesus derives from the Revelations of St. Bridget, as does the motif of the Virgin exposing the Christ child—the shepherds had not been told the child's gender. Many details from the Fall of Man are based on Dürer's famous engraving of 1504.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.