Benedetto Bordon (Italian, Padua and Venice, 1450/55-1539)
St. Mark Giving the Keys of Venice to Francesco
de Priuli, about 1523-24
Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection (Cat. no. 82)
The miniature shows the enthroned figure of St. Mark, patron saint of Venice, presenting the symbolic keys of Venice to the kneeling figure of Francesco de Priuli upon his appointment as Procurator of St. Mark's. Beneath the miniature are twelve lines of text, the opening of a ducale issued by Doge Andrea Gritti (1523-38) announcing de Priuli's appointment, which was made in the early 1520s. The text begins, Nos Andreas Griti, Dei gratia Dux venetiarum (Our Andrea Gritti, By the Grace of God Duke of the Venetians).
The illumination relates closely to the work of Benedetto Bordon, a Paduan-born miniaturist who became prominent in Venice. The decorative borders appear to be edged in thin gilt-bronze bars that give the illusion of fine metalwork. Four oval cartouches are occupied by the Lion of St. Mark (top), the de Priuli arms (bottom), St. Anthony the Great (right), and his symbol, a swine (left). The Priuli Arms below are festooned with wreaths and supported by mermen with horns and pink tails. This exquisite leaf exemplifies the changes in script, page layout and border decoration, and binding developed by the Italian humanist culture of the 1400s.