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February Treasure of the Month

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February Treasure of the Month

Manuscript Cutting, Galeazzo Maria Sforza in Prayer, Probably 1477

With its delicately rendered details and lavishly decorated with gold leaf, this illumination is a stunning example of Italian manuscript illumination in the fifteenth century.

M342.jpg
M342

The cutting would have been originally part of a large illuminated manuscript – perhaps a choir book - and was probably cut during the invasion of Italy by the Napoleonic troops in the late eighteenth century, and later sold. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of the original book or other cuttings from it are unknown.

M342.jpg
M342 (detail)

While perhaps not obvious at first sight, the image represents a large illuminated initial ‘A’ formed by the two towers and putti that frame the image, and the river crossing through the centre of it.

In the foreground is Duke of Milan Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-1476) kneeling in prayer to God, presumably asking for victory in the battle taking place in the middle distance. The putti who are making music, also carry the coat of arms of the city of Milan and the Visconti-Sforza family. On the bottom edge of the cutting the artist Christophoro da Preda signed and dated his work.

This beautiful illumination entered the Wallace Collection together with other cuttings through Sir Richard Wallace’s acquisition of the collection of Both de Tauzia, curator at the Louvre, in 1872.