Cornaro Missal

Unidentified private collection

nativity In about 1505 Cardinal Patriarch Marco Cornaro (B-61) commissioned an unidentified artist of Northern Italy to create the famous illuminated manuscript that has become known as the Cornaro Missal. In the early 1600s the missal was bound in a Roman binding of elaborately tooled morocco in a French fanfare design. One page from the missal, a nativity scene, is shown here.

The missal was later acquired by the Austrian branch of the Rothschild family, then seized by the Nazis on the eve of World War II. The missal was returned to the Rothschilds in the post-war period and finally sold by them at auction at Christie's in London 8 July 1999. The purchase price, equal to U. S. $4.46 million, is the most ever paid for an illuminated Italian manuscript--validating again after almost 500 years the exquisite taste of the Cornaro family.

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1999 C. I. Gable