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The Parma Ildefonsus

An extraordinary masterpiece from Cluny Abbey

Parma Ildefonsus - fine facsimile edition

Ms. Parm. 1650
Biblioteca Palatina, Parma (Italy)

Official distributor for Cultural Institutions on behalf of Il Bulino

View The Parma Ildefonsus on


  • Illuminated manuscript
  • ca. 1090-1100 - Cluny Abbey
  • 112 leaves, 15.8 x 23 cm
  • 25 large miniatures
  • Limited edition of 499 copies
  • Italian Commentary
  • English Abstract

Review of this facsimile by the Cleveland Museum of Art Blog

€4,750 (Reg. Price)
Substantial discount is available for Cultural Institutions.
A Romanesque illuminated masterpiece from Cluny
A full-page illumination

Universally known as the Parma Ildefonsus, this codex is a copy of the De Virginitate Sanctae Mariae treatise written by Saint Ildefonsus. This Parmese codex, which was produced in Cluny somewhere between the 11th and 12th centuries, is understood to have been transcribed from a Spanish copy that is believed to have been destined for Bernardo de la Sauvetat, initially a monk in Cluny and later Bishop of Toledo, newly liberated from the infidel occupation. The text is, therefore, connected to the reconquering of the Iberian peninsular.

Originally created with the intention of being a unique copy, the codex was subsequently used as an iconographic model for at least one other Toledan manuscript of the 13th century, the Ms.10087 of the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. The text, in latin, is distributed over 19 lines per page in Carolingian script and is inserted, along with images, in meandering geometrical and stylised leafy motif frames.

An extraordinary decorative scheme

The illustrative system is exceptional in its complexity: each one of the 222 pages is decorated with the same number of gold, silver and purple frames, differentiated by meandering geometrical and stylised leafy motifs that include both the images, as well as mirror writing. Furthermore it contains:

A detail from the Parma Ildefonsus, facsimile edition
  • 9 full-page illuminations
  • 16 half-page illuminations
  • 8 smaller square-shaped illuminations with busts of the prophets
  • 8 large initials, set against a purple background and bordered by meandering geometrical and stylised leafy motif frames
  • 1 illustrated initial representing the author kneeling in front of Christ
  • 28 simple initials in gold, 10 of which are outlined in red
  • sub indexes in gold with the same form and type as the main text
Fine Art Facsimile Edition
The Parma Ildefonsus, fine art facsimile edition

This edition has been authorised by the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma: since this authorisation also allowed for restoration work to be performed on the codex, a thorough photographic service could be carried out and all the details on every single parchment memorised – chromatic, textual and materials. The chromatic elaboration and printing trial-runs were performed with the possibility of a constant and direct comparison with the original. This opportunity, along with our precise subject knowledge and experience, has allowed us to achieve the maximum level of perfection and precision in reproduction. The print-run is 499 copies, each of them numbered and authenticated. The commentary volume that accompanies the facsimile edition contains essays by: Andrea De Pasquale, head librarian of the Biblioteca Palatina of Parma; Silvana Gorreri of the Biblioteca Palatina of Parma; Neil Stratford, art historian; Giusi Zanichelli, history of art professor at the University of Salerno; Danilo Bersani, researcher at the University of Parma.