MARGARET M. MANION
öinmuDifhs ami atonîm
Figure 80 The Ascension. Très Riches Heures, Chantilly, Musée Condé ms
f. 184; 290x210 mm.
Et Verbum Caro Factum Est:
The Prayer-book of
Michelino da Besozzo
The small richly illuminated manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library, (MS
M. 944) which goes by the name of The Prayer Book of Michelino da Besozzo was
probably produced in Pavia or Milan during the first decade of the fifteenth century.1
The quality of its full page miniatures and the distinctive character of its naturalistic
flower-borders have long been acknowledged by art historians.2 Very little attention
however has been paid to the text which comprises forty-seven Latin prayers for the
major liturgical feasts and selected saints’ days arranged according to the Church
Year.3 Yet a knowledge of the content of these prayers and of the devotional tradi¬
tion from which they stem is important to appreciate the evocative and expressive
qualities of the accompanying illumination.
1 Vellum; the Latin use of Milan 170 x 120 mm; trimmed; 95 Leaves I4, II8, ПІ9, IV8, V9, VI7, ѴП9,
VII , IX , X*. XI7, ХП8, ХІП8, XIV3; 47 prayers; 22 full-page miniatures (with 25 missing); 1 histori-
ated initial and 46 decorated letters; rounded Gothic script in brown ink; one-line gold and blue rubrics;
15 lines of text per page; ruling: 33  23x53  22, in faint brown ink; ruling unit: 6.8 mm; il¬
luminated by Michelino da Besozzo, (c.1370-c.1450).
2 See P. Toesca, La Pittura e la miniatura nella Lombardia dai più antichi monumenti alla meta del
Quattrocento (Milan: 1912; repr. Turin: 1966; О. Pächt, “Early Italian Nature Studies and tire Early
Calendar Landscape”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 13 (1950): 13-47; R. Schil¬
ling, “Ein Gebetbuch des Michelino da Besozzo”, Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 3rd series,
8 (1957): 65-80; and L. Castelfranchi-Vegas, “Il Libro d’Ore Bodmer di Michelino da Besozzo e i rap¬
porti tra miniature francese e miniature lombarda agli inizi del Quattrocento”, Etudes d'art français of¬
fertes à Charles Sterling, ed. A. Chatelct and N. Reynaud (Paris: 1975) 91-103.
3 I should like to acknowledge the kindness of Edward Storman, S.J. and John Moore, S.J., of the
Jesuit Theological College, Parkville for their assistance with the translations of the Latin prayers and
for sharing their knowledge of the liturgy with me.