Giulio Clovio

The Visitation

The Visitation by Giulio Clovio

Artwork Detail

The most eminent miniaturist of his time, Giulio Clovio was born in Croatia but went to Venice to begin training as an artist in 1516. He was captured during the Sack of Rome and tortured before fleeing to Mantua, where he entered a monastery for a time. His style was influenced by Michelangelo and Giulio Romano; Vasari called him 'a Michelangelo of small works'.

The Visitation depicts the meeting between the Virgin Mary, pregnant with the Christ-child, and her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. In medieval manuscripts, illuminated borders often contained flower and leaf forms, or scenes from everyday life. While the central image of The Visitation is religious, the decorative border is drawn from classical sources, harmoniously combining the two great fields of contemporary artistic expression. The Gallery holds another drawing by Clovio in a similar form, The Prophet Isaiah and King Ahaz, which is squared for transfer onto the manuscript page. Both drawings are closely connected with miniatures in the Farnese Hours (The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, M.69), although The Visitation is more highly finished. The Farnese Hours, which Vasari describes in detail, are dated 1546 and were prepared for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. (from The Guide, 2001)

The Visitation
Giulio Clovio
Production date
circa 1564
pen and bistre
340 x 220 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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