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Guilio Clovio Completes a Masterpiece of High Renaissance Manuscript Illumination

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The Farnese Hours. Morgan Library & Museum MS M.69. f. 38v-39r

In 1546 Guilio Clovio (Croatian: Juraj Julije Klović), a renaissance illuminator, miniaturist, and painter mostly active in Italy, completed the illumination of the Farnese Hours for Cardinal Alessandro II Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III. Creation of the 28 miniature paintings (2 double-page) in this manuscript occupied Clovio for nine years. The manuscript was a collaboration between Clovio and the scribe, Francesco Monterchi, secretary to Cardinal Farnese's father, Pier Luigi Farnese. It is widely considered the masterpiece of the greatest manuscript illuminator of the Italian High Renaissance
"Clovio was a friend of the much younger El Greco, the celebrated Greek artist from Crete, who later worked in Spain, during El Greco's early years in Rome. Greco painted two portraits of Clovio; one shows the four painters whom he considered as his masters; in this Clovio is side by side with Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael. Clovio was also known as Michelangelo of the miniature. Books with his miniatures became famous primarily due to his skilled illustrations. He was persuasive in transferring the style of Italian high Renaissance painting into the miniature format" (Wikipedia article on Giulio Clovio, accessed 03-27-2010).
One portrait of Clovio painted by El Greco shows him pointing to the Farnese Hours.
The Farnese Hours was acquired from J. & S. Goldschmidt by J. P. Morgan, and is preserved in the Morgan Library & Museum (MS M. 69)
"The dependence of Clovio on Michel Angelo and his lifting of certain scenes from the Grimani Breviary, are apparent. The Grimani Breviary was owned from 1528, by Clovio's patron Cardinal Domenico Grimani (1460-1523) for whom Clovio executed the Grimani Commentary MS (no. 11) in Sir John Soane's Museum, London. . . ." (, accessed 03-27-2010).

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