IN 1894, twenty-three years after the discovery of the Sforza Hours (BL, Add. MS.34294) and shortly after its presentation to the British Museum, Sir G. F. Warner, in his monograph on the manuscript, drew attention to a letter from the Milanese illuminator Giovan Pietro Birago. Neither the date nor the addressee was stated in the letter, which sought that a certain Fra Gian Jacopo, then imprisoned in Milan, be detained until he had compensated the writer for the theft of an unfinished book of hours, upon which Birago had been engaged for Bona Sforza, dowager Duchess of Milan. It seems that part of this book was already in Bona's possession and that the stolen fragment had been taken by the thief to Rome, where it had been acquired by Giovanni Maria Sforza, a bastard half-brother of Bona's deceased husband and a future archbishop of Genoa.
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