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Giulio Clovio

Giulio Clovio
Juraj Julije Klović
Portrait of Giorgio Giulio Clovio, pointing to his Farnese Hours, by El Greco.
Known for Illuminator, miniaturist, and painter
Notable work Farnese Hours
Movement High Renaissance

Giorgio Giulio Clovio or Juraj Julije Klović (1498 – January 5, 1578) was an illuminator, miniaturist, and painter born in the Kingdom of Croatia, who was mostly active in Renaissance Italy.[1] He is considered the greatest illuminator of the Italian High Renaissance, and arguably the last very notable artist in the long tradition of the illuminated manuscript, before some modern revivals.


  • Biography 1
  • Contact with other artists 2
  • Major works 3
    • Soane Manuscript 3.1
    • Farnese Hours 3.2
    • Towneley Lectionary 3.3
    • Colonna Missal 3.4
    • Other 3.5
  • Death and burial 4
  • 500th anniversary 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Sculptures 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Sources 10
  • External links 11
    • International 11.1
    • Italian 11.2
    • Croatian 11.3


Giulio Clovio was born in Grižane, a village near the town of Modruš in Kingdom of Croatia (today's Croatia).[2] He came from a Croatian family.[3][4]

It is not known where he had his early training, but he may have studied art with monks at Fiume of Novi Bazar when he was young.[5]

Clovio's patron, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, from the Farnese Hours

He moved to Italy at age 18 and entered the household of Cardinal Marino Grimani where he was trained as a painter. Between 1516 and ca 1523 Clovio may have lived with Marino in the residence of the latter’s uncle Cardinal Domenico Grimani in Rome.[6] Clovio studied under Giulio Romano during this early period.[7]

He also studied under Girolamo dai Libri.

While a protégé of Cardinal Domenico Grimani Clovio engraved medals and seals for him, as well as the Grimani Commentary Ms., an important early illuminated book (now Sir John Soane's Museum, London).

By 1524 Clovio was at Buda, at the Hungarian court of King Louis II, for whom he painted the "Judgment of Paris" and "Lucretia". After Louis' death in the Battle of Mohács, Clovio travelled to Rome where he continued his career.[8]

After 1527 he visited several monasteries of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. In 1534 Clovio returned to the household of Cardinal Marino Grimani.[8] A year later Clovio may have followed Marino when the latter was appointed as a papal legate to Perugia, where Clovio is thought to have worked on illustrations for the Soane Manuscript written by Marino Grimani around that time. Clovio likely returned to Rome by the end of 1538 when he is known to have met with the writer Francisco de Hollanda.[6]

Clovio later became a member of the household of Alessandro Farnese with whom he would be associated until his death. It was during his time with Farnese that Clovio created one of his masterpieces, the Farnese Hours. Other well-known works from this period include the illustrations for the Towneley Lectionary.[9]

From 1551 to 1553 Clovio is known to have worked in Florence. During this time he painted a miniature of Eleanor of Toledo (England, Walbeck Abbey, Private Collection).[10]

Contact with other artists

Clovio was a friend of the much younger El Greco, the celebrated Greek artist from Crete, who later worked in Spain, during El Greco's early years in Rome. Greco painted two portraits of Clovio; one shows the four painters whom he considered as his masters; in this Clovio is side by side with Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael. Clovio was also known as Michelangelo of the miniature. Books with his miniatures became famous primarily due to his skilled illustrations. He was persuasive in transferring the style of Italian high Renaissance painting into the miniature format.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a personal friend of Giulio Clovio,[2] and stayed with Clovio in Rome during his Italian trip of 1553.[11] Breugel executed a small medallion depicting ships in a storm on a Clovio miniature of the Last Judgment (New York Public Library),[12] but the six Bruegels in mentioned in Clovio's will have all disappeared.

Major works

Adoration of the Magi and Solomon Adored by the Queen of Sheba from the Farnese Hours

Soane Manuscript

Clovio illuminated the Commentary of Marino Grimani on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. This work is now in the Sir John Soane Museum in London. The commentary consists of 130 vellums. Two large miniatures are included, as well as richly decorated borders. The miniatures depict the conversion of St Paul.[13]

Farnese Hours

His most famous work is the Corpus Christi procession in Rome. It has splendid silver-gilt covers, although they are not by Benvenuto Cellini, as Vasari claimed.

Towneley Lectionary

The Towneley Lectionary is now in the New York Public Library and probably belonged to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Used during services, the book contained six majestic, full-page miniatures opposite miniature depictions of the Evangelists. The illustrations, introduced the relevant readings from the Scripture. They include the Nativity, the Resurrection and the Last Judgment.[14]

Colonna Missal

An illuminated page from his Colonna missal', John Rylands Library, Manchester.

This work dates to c. 1512 and is now in the John Rylands University Library in Manchester.[15] The Colonna Missal was made for Cardinal Pompeo Colonna. There had been some debate about the identity of the artist. Some had attributed the missal to Raphael (about 1517). It has also been suggested that the work may belong to Vinzenzio Raimondi.[16] It is now generally attributed to Clovio.[17][18]


The British Library has his twelve miniatures of the victories of the Emperor Charles V, and other works. The Vatican library has a manuscript life of Frederigo III di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, superbly illustrated by Clovio.

Other illustrations by him are kept in libraries in Vienna, New York, Munich, and Paris, and other works are in many private collections. A large exhibition of his works was held in 2012 in Klovićevi Dvori ("Palace of Klović"), the art gallery dedicated to him in Zagreb.[19]

According to a description written for publication by Antonfrancesco Cirni, he also designed many of the costumes for the famously elaborate wedding festivities of Ortensia Borromeo in March 1565, which were held in the Vatican and included a tournament in the Belvedere courtyard. Such duties were often expected of a Renaissance court painter. The costumes are carefully recorded in a series of anonymous etchings, some probably based on Clovio's design drawings.

Death and burial

Giulio Clovio died in Rome on January 5, 1578. His tomb is in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, the church containing Michelangelo's celebrated Moses.

500th anniversary

Croatia celebrated the 500th anniversary of his birth in 1998. The Croatian National Bank issued a special 200 kuna silver coin in commemoration. A monument to Clovio was also raised in Drivenik. The Croatian government recently made news by purchasing Clovio's The Last Judgement, a painting Clovio gave as a gift to Pope Clement VII. Bernardin Modrić released his film The Gospel According to Klović in 2006. The Vatican celebrated this anniversary with postal stamps.


Today, Giulio Clovio is celebrated in Italy and Croatia. He was born in the Kingdom of Croatia, and stated his Croatian identity.[3][4] But, for most of his life he worked in Italy, and is therefore often referred to as an Italian painter.[20][21]


See also


  1. ^ John Van Antwerp Fine, When ethnicity did not matter in the Balkans: a study of identity in pre-nationalist Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia in the medieval and early-modern periods, University of Michigan Press, 2006, p 195 Google Books
  2. ^ a b The Life and Works of Giorgio Giulio Clovio, Miniaturist: with notices of his contemporaries, and of the art of decoration in the Sixteenth Century - by John William Bradley – 1891
  3. ^ a b Bradley, 2004 (reprint), pp. 368–369
  4. ^ a b Visani, Maria (1993). Giorgio Clovio. Laurana. p. 8. 
  5. ^ Ralph N James , Painters and Their Works: A Dictionary of Great Artists who are Not Now Alive - 1896 - p. 201-3
  6. ^ a b Elena Calvillo, Romanità and Grazia: Giulio Clovio's Pauline Frontispieces for Marino Grimani, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 280-297, . JSTOR
  7. ^ Julius Schlosser, Two Portrait Miniatures from Castle Ambras, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 41, No. 235 (Oct., 1922), pp. 194-195+197-198, JSTOR
  8. ^ a b Renaissance and Reformation, 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary (The Great Cultural Eras of the Western World) by Jo Eldridge Carney (editor) Greenwood Press 2001. Clovio Giulio p. 88-89
  9. ^ Lilian Armstrong, Review of The Towneley Lectionary Illuminated for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese by Giulio Clovio: The New York Public Library Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations Manuscript 91. Described by Jonathan J.G. Alexander. The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 140, No. 1146 (Sep., 1998), p. 626, JSTOR
  10. ^ Janet Cox-Rearick and Mary Westerman Bulgarella, Public and Private Portraits of Cosimo de' Medici and Eleonora di Toledo: Bronzino's Paintings of His Ducal Patrons in Ottawa and Turin, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 25, No. 49 (2004), pp. 101-159, JSTOR
  11. ^ Charles de Tolnay, Newly Discovered Miniatures by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 107, No. 744 (Mar., 1965), pp. 110-115
  12. ^ Claude Henri Rocquet, Bruegel, or, The workshop of dreams, University of Chicago Press, 1991, p 51
  13. ^ Bradley, 2004 (reprint), pp. 245-253
  14. ^ Bradley, 2004 (reprint), pp. 254-260
  15. ^ Donato Mansueto, The Italian emblem: a collection of essays, Librairie Droz, 2007, p 182, n. 56
  16. ^ The John Rylands library, Manchester: a brief record of twenty-one years' work (MCM January MCMXII), The University press, 1921, pg xiv Google Books
  17. ^ Baltrusaitis, J., En busca de Isis, Siruela , 2006, 9788478444601, URL
  18. ^ John Rylands Library and Guppy, H., Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, v. 6, Manchester University Press, 1922, URL
  19. ^ Poklečki-Stošić, Jasminka. "Julije Klović – najveći minijaturist renesanse" [Giulio Clovio – the greatest miniaturist of the Renaissance] (PDF) (in Croatian and English). Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  20. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online."Giulio Clovio." Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.
  21. ^ "Clovio, Giorgio Giulio." Treccani, il portale del sapere. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. (Italian)


  • Bradley, John W. (2004). The Life and Works of Giorgio Giulio Clovio Miniaturist with Notices of His Contemporaries and of the Art of Book Decoration in the Sixteenth Century. Kessinger Publishing.  

External links


  • Italian Renaissance Artist List
  • Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie - Clovio, Giorgio Il Macedo
  • Clovio Giorgio Giulio Artcyclopedia
  • Giulio Clovio Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Clovio Giorgio Giulio Masters
  • Clovio Giorgio Giulio Infoplease
  • Clovio Giulio Bartleby
  • Giorgio Clovio Newadvent
  • Giorgio Giulio Clovio 1911encyclopedia
  • Giorgio Giulio Clovio davidrumsey
  • Giulio Clovio
  • Union List of Artists Names: Clovio, Giulio.
  • Vatican City postage stamp: Christmas 1998 – 500th anniversary of the birth of Giulio Clovio (named Julius Clovius Croatus in the stamp)


  • Motivi disponibili Giorgio-Giulio Clovio
  • Le Vite - Edizioni Giuntina e Torrentiniana
  • Gli artisti principali citati dal Vasari nelle "Vite" (elenco)
  • Ritratto di auto del Clovio
  • Ultimo giudizio del Clovio


  • Klovicevi Dvori Gallery
  • Juraj Julije Klović - In German
  • Juraj Julije Klović Commemorative Coins-in English
  • Croatian post stamp: Christmas 1998 – 500th anniversary of the birth of Juraj Julije Klović
  • Croatian history page
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