The Crucifixion; Moses and the Brazen Serpent
Farnese Hours, 1546
Illuminated by Giulio Clovio (1498-1578)
Manuscript with 114 folios comprising 28 miniatures, on vellum
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1903
The Farnese Hours was once the most famous illuminated manuscript. Completed in Rome for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1546, this book of private devotions was lavishly illustrated by the miniaturist Giulio Clovio, who was called the "new Michelangelo" in his time and later the "Raphael of miniaturists." Here Clovio carried the art of illumination to unprecedented heights.
The miniature of the Brazen Serpent is based on Michelangelo's composition of the same subject in one of the pendentives on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Clovio adjusted a number of relationships among figures so as to make the original, triangular frescoed image fit the rectangular space of the page. The prominent figure of Mary in the Crucifixion is based on a drawing by Michelangelo.