The Calcagni Book of Hours | Books of Hours for sale | Les Enluminures



A Book of Hours created for a member of the Calcagni family of Poggibonsi from the workshop of Attavante degli Attavanti, one of the most celebrated illuminators of Renaissance Florence. Completed September 7, 1508, the Calcagni Hours dates to the middle period of Attavante’s career. Dated manuscripts such as this are rare and remain critical elements in determining Attavante’s chronology. Established patronage is also uncommon, making the Calcagni Hours unique among other works created by Attavante’s workshop.

i (modern paper) + 199 + i (modern paper), folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-199, complete (collation i12 ii11 iii10 iv10 v12 vi10 vii10 viii8 ix2 x10 xi10 xii11 xiii10 xiv12 xv11 xvi10 xvii6 xviii4 xix10 xx10 xxi10), vertical catchwords, written in brown ink in gothic bookhand on 14 lines, single column, ruled in drypoint, red rubrics, painted 2-line initials, seven 3-line illuminated initials gilt with gold leaf accompanied by acanthus tendrils, FIVE HISTORIATED INITIALS (Nativity, David, Saint with Skull, Crucifixion, Pentecost) with borders decorated with portrait medallions, putti, and foliage, THREE FULL-PAGE MINIATURES (Annunciation, David in Prayer, The Raising of Lazarus) with decorated borders facing historiated initials, dated September 7, 1508 on folio 199v. Nineteenth-century binding in red velvet over wooden boards, edges gilt and gauffered, housed in a custom chemise and slipcase, ex libris J. Marechal Brown III. Dimensions 90 × 55 mm (justification 50 × 29).


1. A colophon on f. 199v dates the manuscript to September 7, 1508 (requiesquem functus M D xiii diebus september). It was created for a member of the Calcagni family whose coat of arms, a hound salient, appears in the lower margin of folio 14 (Marquand 1919, 82). The Calcagni family were based primarily in the town of Poggibonsi but held property in Florence. The hours may have been made for Daddo Calcagni who owned two houses situated in via dell’ Aloro to the west of the Canonica in Florence. 

2. J. Marechal Brown III (1915-1981).


ff. 1-12v, Calendar, Use of Rome, with major feasts in red;

f. 13, blank;

ff.  14-77, Hours of the Virgin, rubric: incipit officium beate virginis secundum consuetudinem Romane curie (ff. 14-27v, Matins;  ff. 28-43, Lauds; ff. 43-49, Prime; ff. 49v-54v, Terce; ff. 55-59v,  Sext; ff. 60-64v, None; ff. 65-74, Vespers; ff. 74v-81v, Compline);

ff. 81v-105v, Various prayers (ff. 81v-87, Three Psalms to be said on Tuesdays and Fridays at Matins [Psalms 44, 45, 86]; ff. 87-91v, Three Psalms to be said on Wednesday and Saturday at Matins [Psalms 95, 96, 97]; ff. 91v-102, Hours of the Virgin, Changed Office; ff. 102-104v, Prayers in honor of the Virgin, concluding with a prayer to St. Lawrence, ending in red, Jesu nazarene filii david miserere mei); 

f.  106, blank;

ff. 106v-122, Seven Penitential Psalms, rubric: Incipit septem psalmi paenitentiales (ff. 107-108v, Psalm 6; ff. 108v-110, Psalm 31; ff. 110-115v, Psalm 37; ff. 115v-119, Psalm 101; ff. 119-120, Psalm 129; ff. 120-122, Psalm 142);

ff. 122-134v, Litanies, incipit: Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison;

ff. 134v-138v, Various prayers (ff. 134v-135v, Indulgences [Deus qui voluisti pro redemptione mundi...]; f. 136-136v, Salutations to the Blessed Virgin [Ave cuiis conceptio solemni plena gaudio...]; ff. 136v-137v, Prayer to the Blessed Virgin [Deus qui conceptionis, nativitatis annuntiationis, purificationis…]; 137v-138v, Prayer before communion [Domine non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum...]; f. 138-138v, Prayer after communion [Vera perceptio corporis et sanguinis...] f. 138v concluding with a prayer to Saint Elizabeth [Tuorum corda fidelium Deus miserator illustra: et beatæ Elizabethæ precibus gloriosis fac nos prospera mundi despicere,et cœlesti semper consolatione gaudere]);

f. 139, blank;

ff. 139v-193, Office of the Dead, rubric: Incipit officium mortuorum (ff. 140-148, Vespers; ff. 148v-179v Lauds [ff. 150-158v first nocturne; ff. 158v-167v, second nocturne; ff. 168-179, third nocturne]; ff. 179v-193, Matins);

ff. 193v-196v, the Short Hours of the Cross, rubric: Incipit officium sacre crucis (ff. 193v-194v, Matins; ff. 194v-195, Prime; f. 195, Terce; f. 195-195v, Sext; f. 195v, None; ff. 195v-196, Vespers; f. 196-196v Compline);

ff. 196v-199 the Short Hours of the Holy Spirit, rubric: Incipit officium spiritus sanctus (ff. 196-197v Matins; ff. 197v-198, prime; f. 198 terce; f. 198-198v, sext; f. 198v none; f. 198v Vespers; f. 199 compline);

199v. Colophon: Requiesquem de functus M D xii diebus septembre;


Three full-page miniatures, each with full borders decorated with portrait medallions of saints and other figures flanked by putti and trimmed in gold. Acanthus leaves painted in gold flow across brightly colored borders of vermilion, emerald, and azure. The subjects of the painted miniatures are: the Annunciation, David in Prayer, and the Raising of Lazarus

f. 13v. Annunciation. Gabriel kneels before a seated Virgin extending a lily to symbolize her purity. Rays of light flow from the upper left corner of the picture frame toward the Virgin symbolizing the incarnation.  

f. 106v. King David in Prayer. David kneels in prayer with his hands folded and face upturned toward heaven from which extend golden rays of light. His crown has been humbly laid at his feet.

f. 139v. The Raising of Lazarus. Christ stands at the forefront of a crowd of his disciples facing Lazarus who emerges from his sepulcher wrapped in a gauzy shroud. Skulls placed in decorative roundels adorn the top of the margins.  

Five historiated initials form the incipit of the major prayers. Similar to the miniatures, the initials are accompanied by fully decorated margins.

f. 14. The Nativity. Initial “d” forming the first letter of the incipit of the Hours of the Virgin, Domine, labia mea aperies. Facing the miniature of the Annunciation on f. 13v. The Virgin kneels before the newborn Christ lying in a manger in the foreground. A mountainous landscape is visible through a window in the background.

f. 107. King David. Initial “d” forming the first letter of the incipit of the Seven Penitential Psalms, Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me. Facing the miniature of David in Prayer on f. 106v. A portrait of David with crown and halo. 

f. 140. Saint holding a skull. Initial “d” forming the first letter of the incipit for the Office of the Dead, Dilexi, quoniam exaudiet Dominus. The initial may represent Saint Maracius whose legend was a popular choice for illustration of the Office of the Dead in sixteenth-century Florence (O’Brian 1982).

f. 193v. The Crucifixion. Initial “d” forming the first letter of the incipit for the Hours of the Cross, Domine labia mea aperies. The crucified Christ is presented with a bleeding side-wound, flanked on either side by the Virgin and Saint John. 

f. 196v. Pentecost. Initial “d” forming the first letter of the incipit for the Hours of the Holy Spirit, Domine labia mea aperies. A crowd of Disciples with the Virgin at the center stand with tongues of fire burning above each. A dove, representing the Holy Spirit, hovers over the crowd, radiating light. 

Attavante degli Attavanti (1452-1520/25) was an acclaimed Florentine illuminator best known for his luxurious Missals and Breviaries painted for patricians and royalty. Relatively early in his career in 1473, Attavante collaborated with Domenico Ghirlandaio on a Choir Book, the miniatures of which are now preserved in the Vatican Library (BAV, Cod. Ross. 1192). By the late 1470s, Attavante had established himself as leading miniaturist and received notable commissions from important clients, including a Missal made for Bishop Thomas James in 1483 (Lyon, BM, MS, 5123), a Breviary for Matthias I of Hungary created 1487-1492 (BAV, Urb. Ms. Lat. 112), and a Book of Hours produced for Laudomia de’ Medici in 1500-1510 (BL, Yates Thompson MS 30). He circulated with some of the leading artists of the Renaissance and maintained a friendship with Leonardo da Vinci as documented by surviving correspondences. Some twenty-five years after his death Attavante was remembered by Giorgio Vasari as “the most celebrated and famous of miniaturists.”

The Calcagni Hours strongly resemble other Books of Hours produced in Attavante’s workshop, which he established at the height of his career. These works are characterized by full, richly decorated borders and introduce major sequences of prayer, such as the Hours of the Virgin, with a full-page miniature facing an historiated initial (Alexander 2016, 153-54; Garzelli 1985, 1:241). The Calcagni Hours feature the same characteristics with brightly painted borders of vermillion, emerald, and azure overlaid with gold acanthus tendrils, cartouches, and putti. Portrait medallions of saints and prophets complete the borders. Major prayers are introduced with a double folio spread, pairing a miniature and an historiated initial to create luminous, eye-catching openings. The same features are present in other Hours from Attavante’s workshop, including manuscripts at Dartmouth Library Special Collections (MS. 1054), the Morgan Library (MS. M 14), Oxford (Keble College, MS. 60), and Stockholm (Nationalmuseum MS. B 1960) as well as many in private collections.

One of the most significant features of the Calcagni Hours is its known patronage. The book may have been made for Daddo Calcagni (Daddo di Tommaso di Simone Calcagni) of Poggibonsi who married Tommasa di Gabriele Riccobaldi in 1503 and owned two houses in the vicinity of San Lorenzo. These properties are discussed in a correspondence between Michelangelo Buonarroti and papal secretary Giovan Francesco Fattucci on March 5, 1524. For political reasons, Michelangelo and Fattucci wanted to purchase the homes to eliminate Calcagni’s association with the second Medici Laurentian Library project (Salmon 1990). Daddo Calcagni and his wife Tommasa also commissioned a glazed terracotta altarpiece for the Franciscan church of San Lucchese (near Poggibonsi) from the workshop of Giovanni della Robbia in 1517. Both Daddo Calcagni and Tommasa Riccobaldi’s heraldry are visible on the predella (Marquand 1920, no. 82). 


Alexander, Jonathan. The Painted Book in Renaissance Italy, 1450-1600, New Haven, 2016.

Christie’s; Manson and Woods International Inc. 1981. Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Illustrated Books and Bindings: The Property of the late J. Marechal Brown, 3rd, the Estate of Arthur Haddaway, the Estate of Grace Phillips Johnson, the late Myles Standish Slocum, New York, 1981.

Garzelli, Annarosa. Miniatura Fiorentina del Rinascimento, 1440-1525, 2 vols., Florence, 1985.

Marquand, Allen. Robbia Heraldry, Princeton, 1919.

Marquand, Allen. Giovanni della Robbia. Princeton, 1920.

O’Brian, Cecelia. “A Florentine Book of Hours in the National Gallery of Victoria,” Art Bulletin of Victoria, 22 (1982), pp. 52-62.

Salmon, Frank. “The Site of Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 49, no. 4 (1980), pp. 407-29.

Online Resources

Calcagni heraldry:

Della Robbia altarpiece, San Lucchese:

Morgan Library, MS 14, Book of Hours:

Dartmouth Library, MS 1054, Book of Hours:

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