Matteo Da Milano

Matteo Da Milano (1492 – 1523) was an Italian writer. Matteo was an innovative and eclectic artist, whose lively, colorful, and refined qualities appealed to his urbane, sophisticated patrons. He was especially known for his innovative border decorations, which combined traditions from classical antiquity and northern Europe, including the use of grotesques, jewels, cameos, and other all’anticadecoration, as well as carefully observed flora and fauna.

His name is linked to the miniature decoration of Breviario erculeo (1502), to which other artists also collaborated, considered one of the most important works of the sixteenth century art of Ferrara. The other important work of his period in Ferrara is the Book of Hours commissioned by Duke Alfonso I d’Este between 1510 and 1512, when Ferrara passed one of the most difficult times of his history: he was in war with Julius II , Who had excommunicated Alfonso I and had launched the interdict on the Estonian city. In fact, the book of prayers can be understood as a book of political significance in which Alfonso I makes clear his good-natured nature in opposition to a hostile pontiff.

The manuscript’s artist, Matteo da Milano, was known for his lively, colorful palette, robust modeling, and a penchant for exotic details of costume. He was among the most important and successful artists of the beginning of the 1500s in Rome. This manuscript was commissioned by a member of the powerful Orsini family, which can be determined by the appearance in the borders of the Orsini arms and the device of little bears (orsini in Italian).

Matteo illuminated with four large historiated initials and lavish decorated borders filled with cameos, gems, flowers, and hybrid creatures. The painting in the manuscript is both technically precise and conceptually playful. The figures inhabiting the initials have the minutely rendered details of manuscript illumination while still asserting a monumental presence. The border elements are as creative as the finest Italian manuscripts, executed with a wit that leaves the viewer wondering where the observation of nature leaves off and artifice begins.

Works:
“Missal of Cardinal Arcimboldi” of Milan, Capitolare del Duomo Library, Milan. 1520
This missal (a book containing the necessary texts for the celebration of mass) is illuminated with four large historiated initials and lavish decorated borders filled with cameos, gems, flowers, and hybrid creatures. The painting in the manuscript is both technically precise and conceptually playful. The figures inhabiting the initials have the minutely rendered details of manuscript illumination while still asserting a monumental presence. The border elements are as creative as the finest Italian manuscripts, executed with a wit that leaves the viewer wondering where the observation of nature leaves off and artifice begins. The manuscript’s artist, Matteo da Milano, was known for his lively, colorful palette, robust modeling, and a penchant for exotic details of costume. He was among the most important and successful artists of the beginning of the 1500s in Rome. This manuscript was commissioned by a member of the powerful Orsini family, which can be determined by the appearance in the borders of the Orsini arms and the device of little bears ( orsini in Italian).

“Breviary of Hercules I of Este”, Library Estense, Modena.

“Book of hours of Alfonso I of Este”, Biblioteca Estense, Modena.