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