Giulio Clovio (Croatia, 1498–1578) studied with Giulio Romano and was the author of The Farnese Hours, an illuminated manuscript commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, and completed in 1546. It contains religious stories (both Biblical and apocryphal), illustrations with architectural borders and classical nudes, exquisite miniature landscapes, and candelabrum arrangements in the grotesque style. Clovio painted twenty-six lavishly-detailed full-page miniatures, and illuminated a few dozen more pages with elaborate border-decorations. Clovio was greatly esteemed by his contemporaries. the Farnese Hours, the last great Italian Renaissance manuscript, was highly praised in Vasari's The Lives of Painters (Vite, 1568). Of Clovio, Vasari said that there "has never been ... a more rare painter of little things," while calling him a "piccolo e nuovo Michelangelo." Vasari described the Farnese Hours at length, claiming that the work seemed to him a divine rather than a human production: "ella pare cosa divina e non umana" (Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori, scritte e di nuovo ampliate da Giorgio Vasari con i ritratti loro e con l'aggiunta delle vite de' vivi e de' morti dall'anno 1550 infino al 1567, 3 vols., Florence: Giunti, 1568; Livre d'heures du cardinal Farnèse; Giornale Nuovo).

Clovio, The Farnese Hours, Rome, 1537-46
illuminated manuscript
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum, Ms. M69

Left margin description: border on gold, including foliate ornament; head (mask) surmounted by tinny cross; winged putto holding basket with fruit, flanked by four birds, two of them storks standing on flowers; winged head; medallion enclosing six figures surrounding altar on which is animal amid flames (sacrificial scene); nude torso of woman emerging from foliage, with vase on head, flanked by two birds, and by two fantastic parrot-like beings; head wearing ivy wreath; ball of fruits and foliage hanging from garland at bottom.

Right margin description: border on gold, including foliate ornament; head (mask); putto holding, with raised arms, basket with fruit and leaves, flanked by two storks each standing on one leg on flower; winged head wearing headdress; medallion enslosing figure, right arm raised flanked by three birds and standing amid animals, probably sheep and cattle; grisaille masks above and below the medallion; nude torso of woman emerging from foliage, with Jonic capital on head, flanked by two birds, and by two fantastic animals; head wearing laurel wreath; ball of fruits and foliage at bottom.

Landscape from fol. 66v

fols. 9v-10r
Margins decorated each with border including winged putto leaning on draped back of lion standing on base decorated with mythological hybrid(s); two swans each holding end of garland; lozenge enclosing standing nude (human figure holding spear and shield); two winged heads; nude female figure with two pairs of wings, holding garland of drapery with both hands, flanked by two vases; head wearing headdress.

Landscape from fol. 105r

fols. 66v-67r
Margins decorated with border of floreate ornament; various motifs (two burning lamps, cameo of man wearing headgear, winged heads [masks]; foliate candelabrum motif with two addorsed winged horses with serpent-like hindquarters); two suspended baskets with foliage and drapery; landscape with ruined buildings; two satyrs or men as caryatids; domed pavilion supported by four columns enclosing statue; pearls; vase on pedestal decorated with three ram's heads; two winged putti, grasping handle of vase.

Landscape from fol. 91r

Marginal border decorated with flower-like hat and foliate ornament; two winged women standing atop pedestals linked to building with pediment, garland draped above door; below the building nude man, flanked by two birds, standing on base resting on head of Diana of Ephesus (Artemis), veiled, her chest decorated with two figures flanking object, possibly shield, and crab, her torso covered with breasts, and two lions sitting on her forearms; tiered pedestal decorated with animals including unicorns, horses, winged horses (Pegasus), lions and cattle; two dogs flank base of the pedestal.

Miniature: personification of death, as skeleton, holding scythe with right hand, resting left hand on left knee, body partially draped, is seated on throne, right foot resting on papal tiara, left foot on or next to crown. Flanking the throne are two mourners, hooded, each holding draped hand to face. Before the throne are articles of clothing (garments); armor, including helmets; breastplate, and shields, one round with face; weapons, including sword; eccesiastical vestments and utensils, including tiara, miters, cross staff; symbols of governance, including crowns, scepters, ceremonial mace. In foreground recline nude bodies of men, women and children. Upper margin: skull, flanked by four putti, two leaning on the skull, two weeping. All are flanked by two heads (mask), mouths wide open. Left and right margins: mourner, hooded, holding draped hands to face, only feet visible, standing on pedestal supported by winged lion. Lower margin: sarcophagus on top of which is reclining statue; between legs of the sarcophagus is winged skull flanked by two bones; flanking the sarcophagus are two putti, weeping, each holding upended torch.

fols. 104v-105r
Marginal border decorations: panels each enclosing winged head (mask); two nude male hybrid figures terminating in ornament; standing man, right hand extended holding object, left hand grasping mantle; two winged putti atop temple, decorated with garland, in center, altar on which stands statue flanked by two candles, lamp hanging at left and at right, winged head at lower edge of the building; nude winged woman, wearing diaphanous garment, blowing two horns standing on globe flanked by two lions, all on base supported by two winged putti.

There are 65 pages with images from this manuscript (M.69), see the Online Research Resource of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Worth of mention are also two other works illuminated by Clovio: the Colonna Missal and the Triumphs of Emperor Charles V.

The Colonna Missal dates to c. 1512-32 and was made for Cardinal Pompeo Colonna. There had been some debate about the identity of the artist. Some had attributed the missal to Raphael and it has also been suggested that the work may belong to Vinzenzio Raimondi. However, the work is now generally attributed to Clovio.

Gospel of John. Opening page. Colonna Missal, 1532
John Rylands University Library, Manchester

Detail with John the Evangelist, Hercules and Antaeus,
and Diana of Ephesus emerging from two cornucopiae.

The British Library has Clovio's twelve miniatures of The Triumphs of Charles V, in a volume also including 13 cartouches in colors and gold, of masks, shells, gemstones, grotesques, architectonic decoration and all'antica elements (British Library full record for Add Ms 33733). Commissioned by Philip II of Spain to Clovio, known to his contemporaries as the Michelangelo of illuminated manuscripts, the work is on parchment (29 × 20 cm) and is entitled "Triunfos de Carlos V." Charles V is commonly considered a great ruler, if for no other reason than that he could state that in his realm the sun never set. Charles' victories are the subject of the above-mentioned series of luxurious miniatures, where his mighty deeds are exalted as political and military triumphs.

Triunfos de Carlos V, Italy, 1555-56
cartouche fol. 4v - L'Aguila

cartouche fol. 9v - Los Indios

cartouche fol. 15v - Vencido

det. cartouche, fol. 5v - the face in the crown

det. cartouche fol. 13v - a Michelangelo-inspired grotesque

Cartouche components
6v masks, shells, gemstones, grotesques, architectonic decoration and all'antica elements
7v floral motifs and architectonic decoration
8v gemstones, flowers and architectonic decoration
9v gemstones, grotesques and architectonic decoration
10v shells and architectonic decoration
11v floral motifs and architectonic decoration
12v architectonic decoration
13v masks, shells, gemstones, grotesques, architectonic decoration and all'antica elements
15v masks, shells, gemstones, grotesques, architectonic decoration and all'antica elements
16v masks, shells, gemstones, grotesques, architectonic decoration and all'antica elements
17v architectonic decoration

fol. 10 A miniature of a scene from the Triumphs of Emperor Charles V: the Spanish expedition to America, 1530
fol. 13 The submission of Egmont or Egmont submitting to Charles V, 1546


Materia curiosa 1

Angel as Demon Killer
Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Utrecht, c. 1440
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum, Ms. M945

Mouth of Hell, det. fol. 97r
The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Netherlandish illuminated manuscript in the world. Its 157 miniatures are by the gifted Master of Catherine of Cleves (active ca. 1435–60), who is named after this book. The Master of Catherine of Cleves is considered the finest and most original illuminator of the medieval northern Netherlands, and this manuscript is his masterpiece. The manuscript Catherine commissioned is a prayer book containing an unusually rich series of devotions illustrated with especially elaborate suites of miniatures. Important is the artist's keen sense of observation. All the miniatures are filled with amazing detail. Narrative was also one of the great talents of the Master of Catherine of Cleves—he could tell a good story (Demons and Devotions).


Your ticket to Hell: Demon with the Seven Deadly Sins

Double-mouth of Hell

Hans Friedrich Schorer
Skull in a cartouche,
with a grotesque mask below and a cherub above

Germany, 1651. Drawing
Pen and brown ink, with watercolour, heightened with white
British Museum, London
See also Online Database: Grotesques (2,707 items).

Materia valiosa
Luttrell Psalter
Farnese Hours
Faces of the Grotesque
Neuw Grottessken Buch
Menachem Kipnis
Roman Vishniac


Leo Belgicus

Leo Belgicus motif after antique European map, 16th century
"Lion facing right" type

Among the most endearing "metamorphic maps" is the Leo Belgicus map of the Low Countries in the shape of a Lion, 1583. Austrian cartographer, Michael von Aitzing inaugurated the genre as an illustration of the Netherlands. Featuring the country in the shape of the "Leo" (Lion), strongest of all creatures and the "Belgae" as the "strongest of all tribes" the map was one of many "metamorphic" maps throughout history, in the shape of various animals or humans.

Michael von Aitsinger, Leo Belgicus, map, 1583.[+]
Engraving by Frans Hogenberg. Koninklijke Bibliotheek Belgie.

Although the name "Belgica" is now reserved for the Southern Netherlands ("Belgium"), before the division of the Low Countries into a southern and a northern half in the 16th century, the name referred to the entire Low Countries, and was the usual Latin translation of an area that then covered the current territory of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and a small part of northern France.

Nicolaes Janszoon Visscher, Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici, Seu Septemdecim Regionum Descriptio, 1609
"Sitting lion" type engraving.
According to Van der Heijden this map is "one of the peaks of 17th-century cartography". Visscher's map in the form of a sitting lion is an emblematical representation of the Twelve Years' Truce (1609-21) between Spain and the Seven United Provinces. The lion is surrounded by a great number of texts and symbols relevant to this event. To the left t'Vrije Neerlant (The Liberated Netherlands) together with t'Neerlandt onder d'Aertshartogh Albertus (The Netherlands under Archduke Albertus) trample d'Oude Twist (Old Conflict). In the sky a cherub named Zeghen (Blessing) strewing Rijckdom (Wealth), Veilighe Tijdt (Safe Time), Const en Wetenschap (Art and Science) and Kennisse Goodts (Theology) over the town and country below, where inscriptions refer to t' Lants Welvaert (Prosperity of the Country), t Vergrooten der Steden (The Growth of the Towns), Coophandel (Trade), t'Vredich Lantbouwen (Peaceful Agriculture) and t Veijlich Reijsen (Safe Travel). In the sky to the right is an angel with a trumpet of fame and the words Bestant voor 12 Iaer (12-Year Truce). Below this is a landscape with t'Overvloedich Vee (Abundant Cattle). The sitting lion has his sword sheathed, decorated with two seals, one with the seven arrows for the northern provinces and the other with the Burgundian cross for the southern provinces, and the inscriptions of Duodecim annos and voor twaelf jaren (for twelve years). In the lower right corner is a depiction of the Slapende Oorlogh, an allegorical figure of a Sleeping Mars.
The map is framed by decorative borders on three sides. Above the title strip runs a small frieze with coat of arms of the provinces, each with a caption above it. The two side borders contain town views, to the left the residence in The Hague and nine town views in the Northern Netherlands, to the right the residence in Brussels and nine town views in the Southern Netherlands. These town views are mostly faithful copies of the larger ones designed by Claes Jansz Visscher for Blaeu's 1608 wall map of the Seventeen Provinces.

Visscher, Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici, 1609-11.[+]

Jocodus Hondius & Gerritsz Hessel, Leo Belgicus, Nova XVII Provinciarum Germaniae Inferioris tabula, Leonis effigie, accurate delineata, 1611.[+]
"Lion facing left" type copper engraving
Translation of bottom cartouche text: "The Leo Belgicus as a personification of the Netherlands. My fame of Trojan courage and strength, my glory as another Mars are known worldwide. But far more happy would I be than many a king, if the gods would grant me everlasting peace".

Petrus Kaerius (Van den Keere), Leo Belgicus, 1617
Copper engraving by Hendrik Floris van Langren
From: Petri Kaerii Germania Inferior id est, XVII provinciarum ejus novae et exactae Tabulae Geographicae, cum Luculentis Singularum descriptionibus additis, Amsterdam, 1617
In the reverse text Kaerius acknowledges the adaptation of the lion from Von Aitzing: "typographicam Leonis Belgici primus in lucem edidit D. Michael Aitsingerius Austriacus" ("This representation of the Leo Belgicus was first published by the Austrian Michael von Aitzing"). The Netherlands, depicted in the form of a lion originated with the Austrian Michael von Aitzing (c. 1530-98), who inserted in his book De Leone Belgico (1583) a Leo Belgicus map, engraved by Frans Hogenberg. In the preface of this work von Aitzing explains why he chose this particular title and inserted the lion map. He explains that Caesar mentioned in his "Commentaries" that the 'Belgae' were the strongest tribes, and he therefore decided - partly because of the religious conflicts in the war against Spain - to introduce the Netherlands in the shape of a lion.

Claes Claes Janszoon, Leo Belgicus, 1617

Hondius & Gerritsz, Leo Belgicus, 1630.[+]

Famian Strada, De Bello Belgico, Rome, 1631
"Rampant lion" type
Strada was a Jesuit teacher who was politically sympathetic to the Spaniards and wrote an extensive historical piece, discussing the Dutch wars of independence. This early map shows the Belgian Lion, right forepaw raised yet resting on a shield.

Visscher, Comitatus Hollandiæ denuo forma Leonis, 1648
Universiteits Bibliotheek van Amsterdam

Leo Hollandicus motif

Visscher, Leo Hollandicus, 1648
Since Aitzinger had published his prototype, the political situation in the Low Countries changed considerably. The Provinces rose in revolt against Spanish monarchy, which succeeded in subduing the Southern Provinces, but not the seven Northern ones. The Revolt was suspended during the Twelve Years Peace (1609-1621), before resuming and continuing to 1648, when the Dutch Republic established its independence. The lion's sword has inscribed the motto "Patriae defensio".

Visscher, Leo Belgicus, map, 1650.[+]
British Museum, London
After Jan van Doetecum, 1598. Visscher’s map is one of a genre of printed maps in which the form of a lion is superimposed onto the 17 United Provinces. The concept of the lion map was developed from the 1580s, and symbolised the emerging national consciousness of the Netherlands after its rebellion against Spanish rule and the creation of the United Provinces in 1581. It spoke of strength and pride, and echoed the presence of the lion in the heraldry of many Netherlandish towns.
The Netherlands, depicted in the form of a 'Lion passant', are bordered on three sides with medallions. These medallions contain the effigies of governors of the Netherlands. In addition to the portrait of King Philip II, the two side borders contain, in chronological order, the portraits of seven governors from Margaretha of Parma to Archduke Albert of Austria. The centre part of the lower border shows the portraits of the five Stadholders from Willem of Orange to Prince Maurice, nominated by the States General. The corners of the bottom border provide a long note to the reader in Dutch (left) and in French (right). In the lower right corner we find pictured the views of two residences; one in the North (PALATIUM COMITU HOLLAND), one in the South (PALATIUM BRUXELLENSE). This map was a political statement. It was published to commemorate Dutch independence from the Spanish crown. With its explicit distinction between the governors of the northern and the southern provinces of the Netherlands - first Maurice and Albert, then Frederik Hendrik and Ferdinand - with its two pictures, one of the Court of Holland and one of the Court of Brussels, and by using the term 'utrinque Belgium' (the two Belgium's), this general map of the Netherlands is the first to emphasize the separation of the northern and the southern parts of the country.

Le Lion Belgique des Pays Bas contenant les XVII Provinces, 1672

The earliest Leo Belgicus was drawn by the Austrian cartographer Michael Aitzinger in 1583, when the Netherlands were fighting the Eighty Years' War for independence. The motif was inspired by the heraldic figure of the lion, occurring in the coats of arms of several of the Netherlands, namely: Brabant, Flanders, Guelders, Hainout, Holland, Limburg, Luxembourg and Zeeland, as well as in those of William of Orange.
Aitzinger's map was the first of many. There were three different designs. In the most common one, the lion's head was located in the northeast of the country and the tail in the southeast. The most famous version is that of Claes Janszoon Visscher, which was published in 1609 on the occasion of the Twelve Years' Truce. A less common design reversed the position of the lion, as shown in the Leo Belgicus by Jodocus Hondius.
The third version was published in the later stages of the war, and after the independence of the Dutch Republic was confirmed in the Peace of Westphalia (1648).(WK).

P. Schenk, De XVII Nederlandsche Provincien : Leeuw, 1707-48
University of Leiden, Netherlands

NOM. Même si aujourd'hui le terme Belgique est lié au royaume du même nom, ce ne fut pas toujours le cas. Le nom "Leo Bergicus" se réfère à l'ensemble des Pays-Bas avant que ses parties méridionale et septentrionale se séparent et que la partie méridionale perde des territoires au profit du Royaume de France. D'ailleurs, les Pays-Bas méridionaux sont alors appelés Belgica Regia et les Provinces-Unies au nord Belgica Fœderata.
L'adjectif belgique est alors le synonyme de néerlandais, comme c'est le cas pour les États-Belgiques-Unis qui se nomment Verenigde Nederlandse Staten. La traduction usuelle de la langue néerlandaise en latin est lingua belgica.
La traduction française du Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw [Ordre du Lion Néerlandais] est l'Ordre du Lion Belgique à l'époque du Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas.

CARTOGRAPHIE. Le premier Leo Belgicus a été dessiné par le cartographe autrichien Michael Aitzinger en 1583, alors que les Dix-Sept Provinces sont en proie à la Guerre de Quatre-Vingts Ans. Ce dessin est inspiré de représentations plus anciennes, celles de la figure héraldique du Lion Belgique qui, depuis les croisades, figure dans les armes de la plupart de ces provinces ainsi que dans celles de grandes familles comme la Maison des ducs de Bourgogne, de laquelle descend Charles Quint, et comme la Maison d'Orange-Nassau.
La carte d'Aitzinger est la première d'une suite nombreuse. Il y a quatre représentations différentes. La plus courante est celle qui présente le lion avec la tête localisée au Nord-Est du pays et sa queue au Sud-Ouest.
La seconde représentation montre un lion renversé, avec la tête au Sud-Ouest, comme c'est le cas pour le Leo Belgicus de Jodocus Hondius en 1611. La troisième est celle d'un lion assis dans une posture moins agressive, produite du temps de la Trêve de douze ans. La version la plus connue de ce Leo Belgicus est celle de Claes Janszoon Visscher, publiée en 1609 à l'occasion de cette Trêve. Cette version est entourée des blasons des différentes provinces et de paysages des Pays-Bas Belgiques.
Une représentation particulariste est celle du Leo Hollandicus, le Lion Hollandais. C'est un lion à un sabre qui ne représente que la province de Hollande. Il apparaît dans les derniers moment de la guerre de Quatre-Vingt Ans, quand il devient clair que les Provinces-Unies du nord obtiendront l'indépendance confirmée lors des Traités de Westphalie en 1648. Une des premières versions de cette représentation particulière est celle de Visscher publiée en 1625 (WK).

The Great Holland, 1780

L'union fait la force, 1815
This tiny Leo Belgicus map is set in the masthead of Journal de la Belgique, The right paw of the lion holds a shield with the national motto (Strength in Unity).


Pieter Bruegel the Elder



Two Rabbis

Tower of Babel
oil on panel, 1563
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Big Fish ate Small Fish