Manuscripts Philobiblon

One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century

Ce Manuscrit est écrit sur beau vélin blanc, à très grandes marges... — Leo S. Olschki (1914)

2. Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE)

Georgica. Aeneis. With argumenta . Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Florence, ca. 1460-1470.

275x180 mm. i + 238 + ii leaves. Complete (with the replacement leaves, see below) but the volume evidently originally included at the beginning sixteen leaves with the Eclogues (an erasure on fol. 1r was probably the end of the Eclogues). Twenty-five quires (one quire of 10 leaves presumably lost). Collation: 110 (1-6 lost), 2-810, 910 (1-2 and 9 missing, replaced and numbered 74A, 74B, 80A), 10-2310, 248, 258 (most of 6, blank except for the colophon, cut away; 7-8 canc.). Blanks: 1r, 44v, 235v. Text block: 170x90 mm, one column, 26 lines. Ruled with dry point. Catchwords written vertically from top to bottom in the inner margin of the last page of each quire (a system of catchwords which the scribe Nicolaus Riccius used in his earliest manuscripts). Text written in brown ink in a formal humanist script, signed in the colophon on fol. 238r 'Nicolaus riccius spinosus vocatus scripsit'. At the beginning of each work titles in red capitals (fols. 1v, 45r). Fols. 74rA, 74B, 80A written in 1925 in a skilful imitation of Florentine humanist script by the English calligrapher William Graily Hewitt (1864-1952). On fols. 1v and 45r large gold and vinestem initials with small borders to the left, with clusters of gold-rayed discs and penwork at bottom; vinestem washed in yellow, grounds in brownish red, blue-green and darkish blue, dotted in white or yellow. Thirteen smaller gold initials on square panels of vinestem decoration, and (for the argumenta) fifteen three-line gold initials on blue, green and pink grounds patterned with white and yellow, and with curly outside edges in ink. On the replacement fol. 74A two initials – a vinestem initial and a smaller one on a blue and green ground – copied from the originals. Contemporary Florentine dark brown goatskin over wooden boards, panelled in blind with fillets and borders of small knotwork tools and roundels, star-shaped central panel of intersecting squares. Spine cross-hatched; four original metal clasps, leather straps replaced; edges with traces of gilding and gauffering. Some skilful repairs. In a modern slipcase. A fine, wide margined manuscript. Outer blank margin of fol. 18 cut away, the ink slightly rubbed on a few pages. Some cursive page headings, additions and corrections written by the scribe, a few notes in a later humanistic hand (e.g., fols. 3r, 54r, 54v, 89r). On fol. 70v the first line of the Helen episode 'Iamque adeo super unus eram, cum limina veste' (Aen., ii 567) was first written, then cancelled by the scribe with 'va-cat'.


The manuscript contains the complete text (with the replacement leaves, see above) of Virgil's Georgica, and Aeneis. The volume evidently originally included at the beginning sixteen leaves with the Eclogues (an erasure on fol. 1r was probably the end of the Eclogues):

fols. 1v-44r: Vergilius, Georgicorum Libri; inc.: 'Quid faciat letas';

fols. 45r-234v: Vergilius, Aeneidos Liber; inc.: 'Arma virumque cano'.

Provenance: Leo S. Olschki (1861-1940; Le livre en Italie à travers les siècles, Firenze 1914, no. 108; “Ce Manuscrit est écrit sur beau vélin blanc à très grandes marges. Le dernier f. ne contient que ces lignes: “Liber uirgilii eneidum explicit Nicolaus riccius spinosus uocatus scripsit [...] la marge blanche au-dessous de ces 2 lignes surnommés a été decoupée”); Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969; see the sale of his collection by Hoepli, Vendita all'asta della preziosa collezione proveniente dalla cessata Libreria De Marinis, Milano 1925, no. 211, pl. xliv, “Magnifico codice fiorentino”); Sir Sidney Carlyle Cockerell (1867-1962; bought for 30,000 lire; in his hand the note dated 27 June 1925, regarding the scribe and the replacement leaves written for him by Graily Hewitt); Charles Harold St John Hornby (1867 1946); John Roland Abbey (1896-1969; ex-libris dated 1933; Sotheby's, Catalogue of the Celebrated Library of the late Major J. R. Abbey. The Eighth Portion: The Hornby Manuscripts, Part i, London 1974, lot 2930, and pl. 40); William Salloch, Catalogue 353. The Classical Heritage, Ossining, NY 1978, no. 39.

A fine illuminated manuscript of the works of Virgil. It contains the four books of the Georgica, with the four-line argumenta to each book, and the twelve books of the Aeneis with an argumentum consisting of ten to twelve lines before each book except the first.

The codex was written by the scribe who in the colophon signs himself 'Nicolaus riccius spinosus vocatus' (the epithet 'spinosus' means 'prickly' in English; 'Riccio' is the Italian for hedgehog), i.e., Nicolò di Antonio di Pardo de Ricci (1434/1435 - ca. 1490), active in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century; according to Albinia de la Mare, sixty-four manuscripts are attributable to him, and a number of them are signed with the same formula as here. Riccius was one of the humanist scribes most closely associated with the pre-eminent bookseller or cartolaio Vespasiano da Bisticci (ca. 1422-1498), by 1460 the main provider of books to princes, popes, cardinals, and scholars across Europe. Riccius copied twenty-four manuscripts for Vespasiano, and his hand is found in several classical manuscripts transcribed for the Medici – among them the famous, and almost contemporary Vergilius Riccardianus 492 – and for Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, as the codex of Bracciolini's Opera, copied in about 1470 (Biblioteca Vaticana, Urb.Lat. 224). The quality of the parchment used for the present Vergilius and the exquisite white-vine initials decorating the volume – closely resembling those executed in the Florentine workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni for the ms Riccardianus – indicate that this manuscript was commissioned by an important patron. The handsome blind-tooled binding is characteristically Florentine, and very similar to some of those made by Vespasiano da Bisticci for the Duke of Urbino.

In 1914 this volume – one of only two manuscripts included, as “preuves de ressemblance des caractères des premiers livres imprimés avec l'écriture des manuscrits” – was chosen by the renowned bookseller Leo Olschki to represent Italian humanistic manuscript production in the Leipzig exhibition Le livre en Italie à travers les siècles.

G. Turati, “L'Esposizione mondiale del libro a Lipsia. ii. La partecipazione italiana”, Emporium, 40 (1914), pp. 221-237; M. Levi D'Ancona, Miniatura e miniatori a Firenze dal XIV al XVI secolo, Firenze 1962; J. Wardrop, The Script of Humanism. Some Aspects of Humanistic Script, Oxford 1963; A. Graham - A. de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts in the Library of Major J. R. Abbey, New York 1969, no. 15; R. D. Williams - T. S. Pattie, Virgil. His Poetry through the Ages, London 1982; L. D. Reynolds (ed.), Texts and Transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford 1983; A. C. de la Mare, “New Research on Humanistic Scribes in Florence”, A. Garzelli (ed.), Miniatura fiorentina del Rinascimento 1440-1525. Un primo censimento, Firenze 1985, i, pp. 395-574; Eadem, “Vespasiano da Bisticci e i copisti fiorentini di Federico”, G. Certoni Baiardi - G. Chittolini - P. Floriani (eds.), Federico da Montefeltro. Lo stato, le arti, la cultura, iii, Roma 1986, pp. 81-96; G. C. Alessio, “Medioevo. Tradizione manoscritta”, Enciclopedia Virgiliana, 3, 1987, pp. 432-443; A. C. de la Mare, “Vespasiano da Bisticci as Producer of Classical Manuscripts in Fifteenth-Century Florence”, C. A. Chavannes-Mazel - M. McFadden Smith (eds.), Medieval Manuscripts of the Latin Classics: Production and Use. Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500. Leiden 1993, Los Altos Hills, CA 1996, pp. 166-207; M. Venier, Per una storia del testo di Virgilio nella prima età del libro a stampa (1469-1519), Udine 2001 (mentioning this manuscript, p. 3, note); A. Labriola, “Repertorio dei miniatori fiorentini”, M. Peruzzi (ed.) Ornatissimo codice. La biblioteca di Federico di Montefeltro, Milano 2008, pp. 227-234; L. Nuvoloni, “Bartolomeo Sanvito and Albinia C. de la Mare”, R. Black-J. Kraye-L. Nuvoloni (eds.), Paleography, Manuscript Illumination and Humanism in Renaissance Italy: Studies in Memory of A. C. de la Mare, London 2016, pp. 251-277; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 6.

A luxurious 'Vrelant Book of Hours'

2. Book of Hours

Book of Hours. (Use of Rome); Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475. Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475.

168x115 mm. 182 leaves. Complete. Quires generally of 8 leaves (except 1-26, 156, 182) with the major part of the full-page miniatures added on single sheets. Blanks: fol. 122 and the last one. Early pencilled foliation on the upper right corner (used here). Text block: 88x59 mm, one column, 17 lines. Ruled in red ink. Written in black ink in a regular letter bastarde. Rubrics in red. Capitals touched in yellow, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, panel borders on every page in designs of flowers and fruit with gold leaves and acanthus sprays, fourteen full borders and large initials, thirteen small miniatures with full borders comprising twelve seven-line miniatures and one five-line historiated initial, fourteen full-page miniatures with full borders, the miniatures in arched compartments. Contemporary Flemish blind-stamped panels, two on each cover, depicting the Annunciation beneath a gothic canopy with a border of flowers and figures of dragons, eagles, etc., skilfully inset into calf over wooden boards, the outer edges stamped with crosses. Rebacked, baroque silver clasps added, and engraved with the initials 'D.M.' and the date 1818 (one clasp partly broken). Gilt edges. Manuscript in fine fresh condition, with very wide margins. Minor scratch across part of the miniature on fol. 96, slight marks on fol. 1 offset from pilgrims' badges formerly sewn on flyleaf (two circular, one lozenge-shaped).


Fols. 1r-13r: Calendar;

fols. 14r-20r: Hours of the Holy Cross;

fols. 21r-26r: Hours of the Holy Spirit;

fols. 27r-36v: Mass of the Virgin;

fols. 37r-42v: Obsecro te; O intemerata;

fols. 43r-52r: Suffrages to different saints;

fols. 53r-123r: Hours of the Virgin, Use of Rome: Lauds (fol. 70r), Prime (fol. 81r), Terce (fol. 86r), Sext (fol. 91r), None (fol. 96r), Vespers (fol. 101r), Compline (fol. 109r);

fols. 124r-142r: Seven Penitential Psalms;

fols. 143r-181v: Office of the Dead, Use of Rome.


The subject of the fourteen full-page miniatures are as follows:

fol. 13v: The Crucifixion;

fol. 20v: The Pentecost;

fol. 26v: The Virgin and Child enthroned between two angels, one with a lute;

fol. 52v: The Annunciation in a tall gothic church;

fol. 69v: The Visitation, city and landscape beyond;

fol. 80v: The Adoration;

fol. 85v: The Annunciation to the Shepherds;

fol. 90v: The Adoration of the Magi;

fol. 95v: The Presentation in the Temple;

fol. 100v: The Massacre of the Innocents;

fol. 108v: The Flight into Egypt;

fol. 114v: The Coronation of the Virgin;

fol. 123v: David in prayer before his throne;

fol. 142v: A funeral service in a chapel.

These are the subjects of the seven-line illuminated initials (the initials on fol. 37r is on five lines):

fol. 37r: The Pieta; fol. 43r: St. John the Baptist; fol. 43v: St. Peter; fol. 44r: St. James; fol. 45r: St. Sebastian; fol. 45v: St. Christopher; fol. 46v: St. Nicholas; fol. 47r: St. Anthony; fol. 47v: St. Francis; fol. 48r: St. Anne; fol. 49r: Mary Magdalene; fol. 49v: St. Catherine; fol. 50v: St. Barbara.

Provenance: Catalogue of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures including the Bible of Justemont Abbey... which will be sold by auction by Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London 11 July 1978; purchased by Clifford E. King (1924-2010).

A luxurious Flemish Book of Hours, in exceptional condition: a fine example of a so-called 'Vrelant Book of Hours'.

The manuscript was likely produced in Bruges, as suggested by the style of illumination and the prominent Calendar inclusions of the major feasts of St. Donatian (14 October), the patron saint of Bruges, to whom the city's cathedral is dedicated, and St. Basil (14 June), whose relics were venerated in the church of St. Basil in Bruges, now the Chapel of the Holy Blood.

The manuscript is decorated with fourteen full-page miniatures, inserted at relevant sections of the Hours, mostly accompanying the Hours of the Virgin and based on well-established iconography.

The miniatures are especially notable for their delicately posed human figures; the sense of depth in the landscape backgrounds; the townscapes painted in blue, green, red, grey and pink; the height of the architectural compositions; and the careful execution of floral motifs and borders. The style, along with the intense, distinctive colouring, closely recall the work of one of the most successful and prolific manuscript painters of the Low Countries: Willem Vrelant, a native of Utrecht who was active in Bruges from 1454 until his death in 1481. Vrelant also worked for the Burgundian Court – and especially for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1468 and 1469 – and specialised in the production of Books of Hours. “Willem Vrelant was one of the most successful painters of manuscripts in the Low Countries. Even today we still have some hundred manuscripts decorated by him or his close associates [...] many were made for the highest circles of the Burgundian Court. Their decoration is splendid; their images clear, bold, and naturalistic and the style easy to recognize” (A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant”, p. 3). It is not easy, however, to distinguish between the work of Vrelant, the apprentices and collaborators (including Vrelant's daughters) who were active in his workshop, and his numerous followers and imitators. In the present manuscript, the major scenes tend to be placed above a polyhedral platform covered with white tiles; a similar compositional framework is found in ms KBR 9270 of the Bibliothèque Royale in Bruxelles, which contains the Salutation Angelique by Jean Miélot, painted for Philippe le Bon and attributed to Vrelant himself.

From a textual point of view, the present manuscript also bears similarities to the Hours of Mary of Burgundy, preserved in the National Library in Vienna (cod. 1857) and ascribed to Vrelant as well. Both manuscripts include a section for the Mass of the Virgin, in which the text is illustrated with a full-page miniature depicting the Virgin and Child enthroned against a cloth-of-honor and flanked by two angels, one of whom carries a lute (for a description of the Livre d'heures de Marie de Bourgogne, see B. Bousmanne, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”, pp. 306-307).

G. Dogaer, Flemish Miniature Painting in the 15th and 16th Centuries, Amsterdam 1987; B. Bousmanne, Guillaume Wielant ou Willem Vrelant, miniaturiste à la cour de Bourgogne au XVe siècle, (exhibition catalogue), Brussels 1997; Idem, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”. Willem Vrelant. Un aspect de l'enluminure dans le Pays Bas méridionaux sous le mécénat des ducs de Bourgougne Philippe le Bon et Charles le Téméraire, Turnhout 1997; A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant: Questions and Issues”, Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 68 (1999), pp. 3-30; Th. Kren - S. McKendrick (eds.), Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Los Angeles 2003; T. Delcourt - B. Bousmanne (eds.), Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, (exhibition catalogue), Paris and Brussels 2011; S. Hindman - J. H. Marrow (eds.), Books of Hours Reconsidered, London 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 7.

Astronomy in Turin. The earliest known Italian manuscript of Regiomontanus’ Calendarium

2. Regiomontanus, Johannes (1436-1476)

Calendarium and other related texts. Decorated manuscript on paper and vellum, in Latin. Northern Italy (probably Turin), last quarter of the fifteenth century (perhaps ca. 1474).

206x147 mm. iii + 56 + ii leaves. Complete. Seven quires. Collation: 1-36, 410 (first leaf a parchment insert, pasted to a singleton which forms the last leaf of the bifolium), 54 (last leaf a parchment singleton), 610, 714. Blanks: 1/1r, 6/4v, 6/5r, 7/6v, 7/10v-7/14v. Text block: 140x95 mm, one column, 35 lines. Ruled in light brown ink. Some catchwords present. Text written in a small but clearly legible hand showing the influence of humanist script. Rubrics in red, astronomical symbols in faded purple, two-line initials in simple blue, or red and blue, with contrasting penwork, blank spaces for capitals. Contemporary suede leather over pasteboards, circular marks scored into boards showing places of lost metal bosses. Rebacked. Covers worn and rubbed, a few wormholes, corners damaged. Manuscript in very good condition, slight fingermarks to the lower outer corner of a few leaves, some small stains.


Fols. 1v-36r: Astronomiae kalendarium, cum tabulis astronomicis ab anno. 1475 ad 1513;

fol. 36r: Canon de aspectibus planetarum, carmen (followed by five astronomical symbols);

fols. 37v-43r: Cognitiones naturarum secundum nativitates. Secundum Quidonem Bonactum in tractatu planetarum; apparently unrecorded;

fols. 43v-44r: Ascendentia civitatum et provintiarum [sic] atque regnorum que et feliciter et infortunate disponunt;

fols. 44v-45v: Pronostica Hesdrae;

fols. 46r-48r: Pronostica nativitatum secundum mathematicos; apparently unrecorded;

fol. 49r: Tabula Salomonis;

fols. 49v-50v: Tabula planetarum;

fol. 51r-v: Dispositio Galienis [sic] physici infirmantium; apparently unrecorded.


Ten pages of diagrams illustrating the phases of lunar and solar eclipses for the years 1475-1530, two parchment leaves with four full-page diagrams, one a volvelle (middle ring wanting), others an 'Instrumentum horar[i]um inequalium' with a list of planetary bodies, a 'Quadrans horologii horizontalis' and a 'Quadratum horarium generale' with designations for latitude and longitude. Two pages of calculatory diagrams with text in red and purple ink and two further volvelle diagrams on either side of a paper leaf, a series of near-contemporary calculation numbers added down the side of one diagram.

Provenance: The Augustinian monk Antonius de Lanceo or Lanteo, monastery of San Cristoforo, in Turin (his ownership inscription on the recto of the first leaf of the Calendar, 'S[an]c[t]i Cristofori Taurini Ad usu[m] fr[atr]is Anto[ni]i de lanteo'); Joseff Gregorio from Bologna (seventeenth-century ownership inscription on the lower cover, 'Joseff Greg[o]ri[o] da Bologna'); Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869; see Catalogue of the Extraordinary Collection of Manuscripts, Formed by M. Guglielmo Libri which will be Sold by Auction by Messrs. S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson ... 28th of March, 1859, London 1859; lot 92); Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872; his pencil note 'Ph' number and the pen note “Phillipps Ms 16242” on the front pastedown; his sale at Sotheby's, 5 June 1899, Bibliotheca Phillippica xi, lot 75; sale catalogue cutting glued to the front flyleaf); Samuel Verplank Hoffmann (1866-1942).

An important testament to the history of astronomy in Turin during the fifteenth century. This precious miscellaneous manuscript was likely written and illustrated for Frater Antonius de Lanceo, an Augustinian monk at the monastery of San Cristoforo, in Turin, as his ownership inscription attests.

The volume opens with the earliest known Italian manuscript of the Calendarium by the pre-eminent German astronomer, mathematician, and instrument maker Regiomontanus (Johann Müller of Königsberg), a pupil of Georg Peuerbach and professor of astronomy at the University of Vienna before being appointed astronomer to King Matthias Corvinus. In 1475 Pope Sixtus IV summoned him to Rome to consult on the calendar reform, which would only come into effect in 1482, six years after Regiomontanus' death in the papal city in July 1476. The Calendarium gives information on lunar and solar eclipses for 1475-1530, as well as the length of days and signs of the zodiac and planets.

Only two manuscript copies of Regiomontanus' Calendarium are known to have come on the market in living memory: the manuscript presented here, and that included in a codex dated variously between ca. 1470 and ca. 1500. The latter seems to have once been preserved in the Lambach Abbey (Austria); it was later bought by Laurence Schoenberg and since 2011 has been held at Princeton University. Neither can be definitively dated to either before or after the first appearance of the Calendarium in print in 1474, with respect to which the present manuscript differs only in the alterations to the Calendar and the later sequential placement of the Quadrans horologii horizontalis and Quadratum horarium generale diagrams. Both manuscripts might be copies of Regiomontanus now-lost original manuscript, which may have been circulated among friends or fellow astronomers. An in-depth study of the relationship between these early manuscripts and the printed text has yet to be undertaken, but it is clear that no such study can afford to ignore the present manuscript.

The additional short texts copied in the last leaves are no less interesting and include a large number of astronomical writings, tabulae, and prognostica that apparently failed to be recorded in Thorndike-Kibre or elsewhere, as with the Cognitiones naturarum secundum nativitates. Secundum Quidonem Bonactum in tractatu planetarum (fols. 37v-43r), and the Pronostica nativitatum secundum mathematicos (fols. 46r-48r), which would seem to be unique examples of these texts.

During the copying of the present manuscript, Regiomontanus' Calendar was adapted to include Augustinian saints and exclude the German and Bohemian ones usually found in the work: this feature strongly indicates that the manuscript is likely to have been assembled on behalf of Frater Antonius, a member of the medieval 'de Lanceo' family from Turin who resided at the Augustinian monastery of San Cristoforo, located near San Solutore in that same city. Inscriptions discovered in two incunables now in the National Library of Turin confirm that San Cristoforo was the first Augustinian monastery established in the town, although it was destroyed by the French in 1536. Antonio de Lanteo, or Lanceo, may well have been an acquaintance of Regiomontanus, who traveled extensively throughout northern Italy between 1461 and 1467, and later in 1472 and 1475.

In the nineteenth century, this fine volume belonged to the well-known bibliophile (or bibliomane) Guglielmo Libri, and in the 1859 sale catalogue of his library the manuscript is described as “a very important collection, with fine diagrams and numerous tables”. Later it caught the attention of Sir Thomas Phillipps – arguably the greatest manuscript collector to have ever lived – and more recently of Samuel Verplank Hoffmann, who studied and taught astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. A member of both the New York Historical Society and the Grolier Club, Verplank Hoffmann intensively collected astronomical books and scientific instruments. His collection of astrolabes was acquired in 1959 by the Smithsonian Institution, and this fine manuscript – such an illustrious monument to the history of astronomy – was probably sold on 28 July 1944, the date pencilled on the front pastedown of the volume.

L. Thorndike - P. Kibre, A Catalogue of Incipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin, Cambridge 1963; H. Größing, “Regiomontanus und Italien. Zum Problem der Wissenschaftauffassung des Humanismus”, Regiomontanus Studien, 1980, pp. 223-241; E. Zinner, Regiomontanus. His Life and Work, Amsterdam 1990; K. Mütz, “Der Kalender für Graf Eberhard im Bart und der Kalender von Regiomontanus. Zwei herausragende Werke ihrer Zeit”, Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte, 55 (1996), pp. 65-91; R. Kremer, “Text to Trophy. Shifting Representations of Regiomontanus's Library”, J. Raven (ed.), Lost Libraries. The Destruction of Great Book Collections since Antiquity, Houndsmill 2004, pp. 75-90; M. Wagner, Regiomontanus. Ein fränkischer Astronom, München 2005; M. Folkert, The Development of Mathematics in Medieval Europe: the Arabs, Euclid, Regiomontanus, Aldershot 2006; “Hans Sporer's Xylographic Practices. A Census of Regiomontanus's Blockbook Calendar”, B. Wagner (ed.), Blockbücher des 15. Jahrhunderts. Eine Experiementierphase in frühen Buchdruck. Beiträge der Fachtagung in der Bayerischen Staatsbiblithek München am 16. und 17. Februar 2012, Wiesbaden 2013, pp. 161-188; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 17.

Bordering on the fringes of heresy and the occult

4. (pseud-) Gioacchino da Fiore

Vaticinia Pontificum. Illustrated manuscript on grey-blue paper, in Italian. Italy, end of the sixteenth century.

266x211 mm. 20 leaves. Complete. Five quires. Collation: 14+1, 24, 34+1, 44,52. Blanks fols. 1/5r and 5/2. Modern pencilled foliation (used here). Written in brown ink, in a unique hand. On the first leaf beneath the title ('Prophetia dello Abbate Ioachino circa li Pontifici & RE'), Christ's monogram 'HIS' within an elaborate cartouche. Thirty-two wash drawings in brown ink heightened in white chalk biacca. On fol. 18r a folding tab pasted to the outer corner bearing the text 'Leo XII. quem Deus sospitem diutissime servet'. Eighteenth-century brown morocco, covers within an elaborate gilt frame, cornerpieces. Smooth spine richly gilt. Marbled edges. Lower joint damaged at the extremities. Preserved in a cloth box with morocco lettering-piece on spine. Manuscript in good condition, the ink has corroded several lines of text, paper eroded in places; all holes have been skilfully repaired.


Fol. 1r: title and elaborate cartouche;

fol. 1v: a friar at a lectern – evidently Joachim of Fiore – preaching to his confreres;

fol. 4v: monk with a halo giving books to four monks and four nuns;

fol. 5r: Onorius IV ('Dure fatiche sustinerà del corpo');

fol. 5v: Celestinus IV ('La voce vulpina perderà il principato');

fol. 6r: Alexander V ('La confusione et errore sera uitiato');

fol. 6v: Iohannes XXIII ('Elatione');

fol. 7r: Benedictus XIII ('Li homini forti sara orbati de la Inuidia');

fol. 7v: Clemens V ('Mobile, et immobile se fara, et assai mati guastata');

fol. 8r: Innocentius VII ('Le decime seranno dissipate in la effusione del sangue');

fol. 8v: Gregorius XII ('La penitentia, tenera le vestigie de Simon Mago');

fol. 9r: Niccolo III ('Le stelle congregara accioche luceno nel firmamento del cielo'):

fol. 9v: Martinus IV ('Con le chiaue serara et non aprira');

fol. 10r: Nicolaus IV ('Loriente beuera del Calice de lira de Dio');

fol. 10v: Bonifacius VIII ('Fraudolentemente sei intrato potentemente hai regnato, tu morirai gemendo');

fol. 11r: Iohannes XXII ('Contra la Columba questa imagine brutissima de Chierici pugnata');

fol. 11v: Benedictus XII ('Sei Planeti lucidata et finalmente uno excedera il fulgore di quelle');

fol. 12r: Clemens VI ('La Stola sua delbara nel sangue de l'agnello');

fol. 12v: Innocentius VI ('Il lupo habitata con lo agnello, et parimente cibaransi');

fol. 13r: Urbanus V ('Questo sole aprira il libro scritto con il dito de Dio viuo');

fol. 13v: Gregorius XI ('Li fiori rossi laqua odorifera distillarano');

fol. 14r: Urbanus VI, the Antichrist ('Tu sei terribile, che fara resistentia a te');

fol. 14v: Bonifacius IX ('Lo occisione del figliolo de Balael seguirano');

fol. 15r: Martinus V ('La incisione hipocresi sera ne labominatione');

fol. 15v: Eugenius IV ('La occisione del figliol de Balael seguirano');

fol. 16r: view of a city ('Sangue');

fol. 16v: a pope with a fox and flagstaffs ('Con bona gratia cessara la Symonia');

fol. 17r: view of a city ('La potestate sera unitate');

fol. 17v: the naked pope ('La bona oratione altramente operatione Thesauro a li poueri sera erogato');

fol. 18r: a pope as a pastor ('Bona intentione');

fol. 18v: a pope being crowned by an angel ('Pro honoratione');

fol. 19r: a pope enthroned and surrounded by angels ('Occisione bona');

fol. 19v: a pope with Nabuchodonosor as a monstrous creature ('Reuerentia').

An interesting manuscript on grey-blue paper containing the earliest translation in Italian vernacular – made by the Dominican Leandro Alberti – of the Vaticinia pontificum, the mystical prophecies traditionally attributed to the Calabrian abbot Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1132-1202). The Vaticinia may have had Byzantine origins, but by the late thirteenth century the prophecies were being disseminated by Joachimite disciples and were associated with his authorship. It is the most important apocalyptic work of the Middle Ages, and the manuscript was widely circulated.

The text of the Vaticinia pontificum was produced in two stages. The older set consists of fifteen prophecies, substantially Latin translations of the Greek Oracles composed by Leo the Wise which had been in circulation since about the time of Pope Benedict XI's death in 1304. In the second half of the fourteenth century, another fifteen similar prophecies were produced. From the early fifteenth century onward these two series, along with their related images, commonly circulated together, the more recent series generally placed before the older one to keep the future predictions further from the present. Each prophecy follows a canonized scheme composed of four elements: an emblematic image of a pope, his name before and after becoming pope, a mystical prophecy, and a motto.

In 1515 the Bolognese Dominican Leandro Alberti (1479-1552) – the well-known author of the popular Descrittione di tutta Italia (see no. 110), which was first published in 1550 – was responsible for one of the earliest printed edition of the Vaticinia pontificum.

Alberti's edition appeared in print in Bologna in July 1515 under the title Ioachimi abbatis Vaticinia circa apostolicos viros et Ecclesiam Romanam, and is his first published work. The booklet was issued from the press of Girolamo Benedetti simultaneously with the Italian vernacular edition of the text (Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino circa li Pontifici et R.C). Both editions had obtained the imprimatur from the Inquisition, despite the nature and content of the prophecies bordering on the fringes of heresy and the occult. The Bolognese edition of the Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino is illustrated with thirty woodcuts which only partially follow the traditional illustrative apparatus found in the manuscript tradition of the Vaticinia as they are lacking the names of the popes depicted in the emblematic images. A second edition of Leandro's translation was published in Venice in 1527 by an anonymous printer employing a different set of woodblocks, including two additional illustrations not belonging to the traditional Vaticinia series.

The present manuscript closely follows the Venetian edition of 1527, containing – like its printer counterpart (we have referenced the copy in the British Library, 730/1609) – thirty-two illustrations in the form of chiaroscuro wash drawings, including the two additional images, along with the identical elaborate cartouche on the title leaf. The first illustration is here painted on the verso of the first leaf and shows a friar at a desk – evidently Joachim of Fiore – preaching to his confreres. The second illustration depicts an unidentified monk with a halo giving a book entitled Vitae Patrum to four monks on his right, as well as an untitled book to four nuns on his left (in contrast, in the Venetian Prophetia both books are entitled Vitae Patrum). The subsequent thirty illustrations belong to the traditional Vaticinia series, but – as in the aforementioned printed editions – the scheme is composed of only three elements: an image of a pope at the centre of the page, a motto at the top, and the mystical prophecy below. In this manuscript, however, the sequence of emblematic illustrations does not always follow that found in the Venetian publication. The mottos and the mystical prophecies accompanying each illustration are substantially identical to those included in the publication of 1527, with a few minor orthographical variants.

The manuscript also includes the dedicatory letter from Leandro Alberti to Giulio de' Medici, the future Pope Clemens VII and, at that time, Apostolic Legate in Bologna (fols. 2r-v), followed by the Vita de Ioachino Abbate de S. Flore, composed likewise by Alberti (fols. 3r-v), and the short address in verse on fol. 4r 'Sopra le Prophetie de lo Abbate Ioachino al Lectore' by Filippo Fasanini (d. 1531), to whom the translation into Italian has been also attributed.

Both printed editions of 1515 of 1527 are of the greatest rarity, and extant copies can be counted on one hand. The Bolognese as well as the Venetian Prophetia dello abbate Ioachino were apparently printed in a limited number of copies, a feature which might explain the enduring manuscript circulation of this prophetical work during the age of printing.

H. Grundman, “Die Papstprophetien des Mittelalters”, Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 19 (1929), pp. 77-138; M. Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages. A Study in Joachimism, Oxford 1969; D. L. Drysdall, “Filippo Fasanini and his 'Explanation of Sacred Writing', The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance studies, 13 (1983), pp. 127-155; A. Prosperi, “Intorno a un catechismo figurato del tardo '500”, E. Ullmann (ed.), Von der Macht der Bilder. Beiträge des CIHA- Kolloquiums “Kunst und Reformation”, Leipzig 1983, pp. 99-114; O. Niccoli, “Prophetie di musaico. Figure e scritture gioachimite nella Venezia del Cinquecento”, A. Rotondò (ed.), Forme e destinazione del messaggio religioso: aspetti della propaganda religiosa nel Cinquecento, Firenze 1991, pp. 197-227; H. Millet, Il libro delle immagini dei papi. Storia di un testo profetico medievale, Roma 2002; F. Troncarelli (ed.), Il ricordo del futuro. Giacchino da Fiore e il Gioachimismo attraverso la storia, Bari 2006; A. Damanti, “Bononia docet: Leandro Alberti e l'ambiente umanistico a Bologna. Con qualche nota sulle edizioni albertiane dei Vaticinia Summi Pontificis”, M. Donattini (ed.), L'Italia dell'Inquisitore. Storia e geografia dell'Italia del Cinquecento nella Descrittione di Leandro Alberti, Bologna 2007, pp. 97-116; J.-B. Lebigue, H. Millet et. al. (eds.), Vaticinia Pontificum (ms. A.2448, Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bolonia). Libro de estudios, Madrid 2008; R. Rusconi, Santo Padre. La santità del papa da san Pietro a Giovanni Paolo I, Roma 2010; A. Prosperi, “Vaticinia Pontificum. Peregrinazioni cinquecentesche di un testo celebre”. M. Donattini (ed.), Tra Rinascimento e Controriforma: Continuità di una ricerca. Atti della giornata di studi per Albano Biondi, Verona 2012, pp. 77-111; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 177.

A fascinating mirror of Italian society at the beginning of the Seicento

4. [Commedia dell’Arte]

Album with representations of Italian, mainly Venetian, costumes and characters. Illuminated manuscript on parchment. Italy (Venice ?), first quarter of the seventeenth century.

125-127 x 190-195 mm (oblong). [22] single leaves mounted on paper guards, compensation guards added at regular intervals. Foliation in pencil, corresponding neither to the number of leaves nor their respective position within the album. Twenty-two miniatures in full colour with occasional use of gold and silver. One miniature with a paper flap (fol. 7). Headings written in gold, in a regular antiqua capitalis hand. Mid-twentieth-century dark blue morocco, signed by the Italian binder Bernasconi. Title lettered on the spine, inside dentelles. Three paper flyleaves at beginning and end, marbled pastedowns and first flyleaves. In a modern marbled slipcase. Well-preserved manuscript. Most miniatures in fine condition, only minor rubbing, two miniatures (fols. 5 and 13) partly smudged, occasional staining, several repairs around the edges of the leaves.


The album is composed of twenty-two miniatures, painted on the recto of each leaf (versos blank). While the first two miniatures (fols. 1 and 2) are set in frames and have fully articulated backgrounds, the others follow a simpler scheme. A stripe of beige-pink sets the stage for a défilé of figures.

Fol. 1r: 'Come si bace li piedi del papa';

fol. 2r: 'Come le done si petinano nel sol per rossir li suoi capeli';

fol. 3r: 'Gentildona venetiana & Donzela venetiana';

fol. 4r: 'Procurator di Venetia & Magnifico di Venetia';

fol. 5r: 'Duco di Venetia & Duchesa di Venetia';

fol. 6r: 'Cortegiano de la corte del papa & Comendatore in Padoa';

fol. 7r: 'Cortesiana & Vedoa Feraresa';

fol. 8r: 'Caposta di Padoa & Procurator in Padoa';

fol. 9r: 'Cortegiana romana & macarela';

fol. 10r: 'Un evesque de France allent en prossession';

fol. 11r: 'Generale de Larmata di Venetia & Concilio di Venetia';

fol. 12r: 'Medico';

fol. 13r: 'Gondola di Venetia';

fol. 14r: 'Come li batuti vano nela processione';

fol. 15r: 'Arlequin & Isabella & Franquatripa';

fol. 16r: 'Un contadino sacando otirando lato duna capra';

fol.17r: 'Contadina';

fol. 18r: 'Charlatano';

fol. 19r: 'Mascarata';

fol. 20r: 'Come si porta il vino nel tempo di vendemi';

fol. 21r: 'Un pescator il quale va pescando pece sopra il fiumo';

fol. 22r: 'Come duy fachini giocano a la m[ora]'.

A fascinating manuscript containing twenty-two fine, full-colour miniature drawings of Italian costumes for men and women of different social ranks, scenes of local life, ceremonies, and characters from the Commedia dell'Arte. Twelve of these drawings depict Venetian scenes or dress, suggesting the album may have been executed in the Veneto region, particularly in Venice or Padua, leading centres not only for manuscript production and publication, but also for fashion and the trading of textiles.

At that time, the vogue to buy similar drawings or miniatures from print shops or booksellers, or to commission a personalized costume collection from local artists, was widespread among foreign travellers in Venice and other Veneto cities like Padua. In the age of pre-Grand Tour travels, such albums provided a sort of 'book of memories', illustrated with scenes from local life, especially its ceremonies and dress. These albums were thus produced according to a traveller's individual preferences, and the drawings were rarely signed by the artists. Notably, such travel albums, and particularly those produced in the Venetian milieu, often included representations of courtesans in addition to drawings of noble or wealthy women. “Visitors often purchased visual representations of courtesans' dress in the Venetian marketplace, and then placed them, together with colored miniatures of other Venetian fashions of both men and women, in personal albums as memories of their visits” (M. F. Rosenthal, “Cutting a Good Figure,” p. 52).

Another group might be said to form around rather cheeky representations of courtesans. Two such illustrations are of especial note. The first is a drawing of a woman dyeing her hair blond, an allurement closely associated with Venice, as attested by Titian's nudes. The second shows a courtesan – ironically juxtaposed with a widow – with a moveable flap for a skirt. This conceit derives from Bertelli's Diversarum nationum habitus, though the flap is lacking in many copies of the printed book. When the flap is lifted, the woman is seen to be essentially naked, wearing only a pair of stockings with fancy ribbons and some high-heeled shoes.

The remaining miniatures show various figures in a seemingly arbitrary order, including some depicting figures from the Commedia dell'Arte, which are of the greatest interest. Developed in sixteenth-century Italy, the Commedia dell'Arte is a type of theatre characterized by improvised dialogues based around plot outlines and featuring a set of stock characters. Fol. 15 presents three of the most famous among these latter. Harlequin is the darling of the audience: witty, often impertinent, and full of jokes; he and Franquatripa – whose name signifies 'nonsense', and who's a real good-for-nothing – belong to the 'Zanni' or simple folk. Isabella is most often the beautiful girl whose adventurous path to a happy union with her beloved forms a central plotline. Closely related is the miniature entitled 'Charlatano' (fol. 18). Charlatans entertained with fantastic stories, often about illnesses and miraculous cures for which they held in stock a wide selection of 'medicine' on sale for the audience. Like the comedians they performed in city and town piazzas. Another aspect of the fascination with theatre and costume is illustrated by the masquerade (fol. 19), a popular pastime of the wealthy Venetians, which of course reached its annual peak at Carnival.

The miniatures in the second part of the present album, among which the flagellants certainly stand out, present other strata of society: a peasant woman and her male counterpart, a fisherman, two vineyard workers, and two servants at leisure. This last miniature shows the pair engaged in a round of mora, a popular Italian game in which two players simultaneously hold up one or several fingers, each player trying at the same time to predict the number of fingers shown by the other. Taken together, the miniatures, which may originally have belonged to a larger series, offer a cross-section of Venetian society at the beginning of the seventeenth century, as indicated by the fashion style. With its faithful representations of costumes, typical traditions, and social habits, the album is a truly precious historical document.

The focus on dress also relates to contemporary printed costume books, including Bertelli's Diversarum nationum habitus and the De Habiti antichi et moderni by Cesare Vecellio, which first appeared in Venice in 1590 and subsequently went through many editions. Both Bertelli's and Vecellio's works offer a veritable mine of information on clothing, textiles, and luxury goods such as jewellery.

Similar albums are highly sought after by collectors for their rarity and the beauty of their visual representations. Famous examples include the ms Egerton 1191 of the British Library, which was produced in Venice or Padua in the 1570s, and the album known as Mores Italiae, held by the Beinecke Library (ms 457), which was executed in the 1570s for a foreign student matriculated at the University of Padua.

M. A. Katritzky, “Scenery, Setting and Stages in Late Renaissance Commedia Dell'Arte Performances:Some Pictorial Evidence”, Ch. Cairns (ed.), Scenery, Set and Staging in the Italian Renaissance: Studies in the Practice of Theatre, Lewiston, NY 1996, pp. 209-288; U. Ilg, “The Cultural Significance of Costume Books in Sixteenth-Century Europe”, C. Richardson (ed.), Clothing Culture 1350-1650, Aldershot 2004, pp. 29-47; T. Storey, “Clothing Courtesans. Fabrics, Signals, and Experiences”, ibid., pp. 95-108; M. A. Katritzky, The Art of Commedia: A Study in the Commedia dell'Arte 1560-1620 with Special Reference to the Visual Records, Amsterdam 2006; M. F. Rosenthal, “Cutting a Good Figure. The Fashions of Venetian Courtesans in the Illustrated Albums of Early Modern Travelers”, M. Feldman (ed.), The Courtesan's Arts. Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Oxford 2006, pp. 52-74; Eadem, “Fashion, Custom and Culture. Two Early-Modern Illustrated Album,” M. Rippa Bonati - V. Finucci, Mores Italiae. Costumi e scene di vita del Rinascimento: Costume and Life in the Renaissance, Cittadella 2007, pp. 79-107; A. Vitali, La moda a Venezia attraverso i secoli. Lessico ragionato, Venezia 2009; S. Goltz, “A Venetian Sixteenth-Century Costume Book as an Authentic Visual Record”, M. Aldrich - J. Hackforth-Jones (eds.), Art and Authenticity, Farnham 2012, pp. 50-61; P. Jordan, The Venetian Origins of the Commedia dell'Arte, London 2014; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 190.

The Renaissance fortune-telling book goes baroque

5. [Stefano della Bella, after]. Spirito, Lorenzo (ca. 1425-1496)

Libro della Ventura. Manuscript drawn and calligraphed in brown ink, in Italian. Italy (possibly Florence?) ca. 1650.

295x284 mm. I + 48 + I leaves. Complete. Six quires. Collation: 110, 26-1, 36, 44, 510, 616-3. Beautiful allegorical title leaf, surrounded by a cornucopia in the form of a garland, with richly festooned garlands draped over the upper portion of the frame. On the verso of the title leaf, introductory text held by three putti and a bust labelled 'Lorenzo In', an homage to the inventor of the game (the bust reappears at a slightly different angle bearing the full 'Lorenzo Inventi' on fol. 22r). The following leaves are finely illustrated with full-page and double-page ink drawings within elaborate frames, depicting – according the widespread iconography of fortune-telling books – kings, wheels of fortune, and prophets (see below). Calligraphic text in a single hand, drawings most likely in two. Each leaf has been 'tabbed' and labelled in the outer right margin to facilitate game playing. Seventeenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt frieze, spine divided into seven compartments by gilt fillets. Later endleaves, the original flyleaves preserved, bearing some essays with a compass. Manuscript in good condition, three leaves (including the title leaf) extended to fit the size of the volume, several others with repairs to the lower and outer margin, occasionally affecting the drawings and/or labels.


The manuscript contains:

-ten full-page drawings of busts of kings placed upon pedestals and within decorative rectangular frames; twenty full-page tables of dice bearing at the centre a small drawing showing each figure of the game (real or imaginary animals, zodiac signs, emblems, etc.);

-twenty full-page drawings of wheels of fortune, again with each figure placed at the centre, set before largely pastoral landscapes. Under each wheel is a vignette with scenes of travellers, putti, castles, etc.; twenty double-page spreads dedicated to the prophets, featuring the prophet's portrait on the first page set within a garland, extensive calligraphic text in terzine that carries through both pages, and a highly inventive 'carpet' drawing at the bottom of the second page.

All drawings included here are within elaborate ornamental frames, surmounted by banderoles that identify the passage or figure depicted below.

Provenance: ownership inscription inked out, and almost illegible, on the front flyleaf, 'Venne alla [...] di detto libro in Venezia dal Signor G[...] D[...] go'.

A very refined seventeenth-century manuscript containing the Libro della Ventura by Lorenzo Spirito, first printed in Bologna in 1482 – one of the most popular printed fortune-telling books of the Renaissance and here profusely embellished with high-quality ink drawings that beautifully exemplify the organic ornamentality of the Baroque.

The manuscript text is copied from the printed edition nearly verbatim, as are the major figures and motifs (kings and fortune wheels, for example) thus allowing for standard game play. However, the illustrations themselves are far more embellished and in the manner of the prominent Italian draughtsman and printmaker Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). A prolific artist, della Bella was particularly well known for the vastness of his subject matter which ranged from wittily inventive ornamental plates, frontispieces, and illustrations for theatre productions, to present-day and historically bent scenes of the military arts and the royal court, to metaphoric representations of skeletons during the plague and a plethora of capricci. Indeed, so varied was della Bella's work that he was even commissioned to produce four sets of educational playing cards for the young Louis XIV covering history, mythology, and geography.

The breadth of figures, motifs, scenes, and ornament that permeate the pages of the manuscript presented here is equally impressive, particularly given the overall coherency and unity of form established throughout. This careful balance also points up an important feature of della Bella's style: in his youth, the Florentine artist had been an ardent follower of the technically exquisite Jacques Callot (ca. 1592–1635), but his stay in Paris between 1639 and 1650 witnessed the development of his own unique style suffuse with supple, lyrical lines and almost mannerist figuration. The artist was also keen to work en plein air as much as possible, imbuing his rhythmical forms with a marked sense of spontaneity that is certainly to the fore in the present illustrations. In more particular details, too, the master's style is everywhere evident; thematically, for example, in the small, elaborately costumed figures in fancy headdresses that recall his interest in Rembrandt, or in the array of animals that enliven the page as they scamper across imaginative landscapes (in fact, della Bella was undertaking a series of etched animal portraits right around the date we propose our manuscript was produced, and certain animals, such as the deer and eagles, demonstrate remarkable similarity to those included in his series). Formally, too, the remarkable sense of luminosity and texture evident in the hair, feathers, grass, leaves, and sky – achieved through sure, painterly yet delicate strokes economically and efficiently employed to let the white ground come through – is practically signature della Bella. A further point to the level of creativity demonstrated in this manuscript: the 'carpet' drawings mentioned above bear no evident relation to the illustrations in any printed edition of the book.

The visual coherency of this manuscript is strengthened still by the unity of 'disegno' between the drawings and the three columns of calligraphic text, such that one may infer that artist(s) and calligrapher worked in close collaboration. This is nowhere more evident than in the magnificent title leaf or the drawing on the following verso. The opening leaf gives the title in Roman capitals, beneath which are some introductory verses, not present in the received text. The text proper begins on the verso of the same leaf ('Qui comincia il libro'), and is neatly disposed on a curtain, a common feature of Baroque, held at the top by three putti.

While there were at least twelve Italian editions of Spirito's text – all now exceptionally rare (see no. 42) – the source for the present manuscript remains unknown. Comparison with the printed editions nonetheless suggests the basic trajectory: schematic woodcut figures (with frequent re-uses of the same block) are replaced by the individuation of figures, often with orientalizing, 'a l'antica', or historicizing detail, and by fine modeling and minute cross-hatching. Artistically, the 'carpet' drawings, which occupy a quarter to half of the lower margin, are among the most inventive in the album. Subjects include capricci, pastoral scenes of animals, seascapes, landscapes, fortified cities, and putti at play. A few are emblematic: one in which three putti seem to be playing a game involving a certain number of coins hidden under a hat (fol. 29r), with one of the three (the loser?) in tears; or another in which a small putto appears to be suckling an antlered deer (fol. 32r).

We suggest the motive for the present manuscript was the production of a luxury object, probably for presentation, rather than simply a 'copy' of an increasingly rare printed text. The carefully cut tabs in the right margins make it clear that it was to be played as a game, and minor defects suggest other signs of use. The drawings were clearly made on individual sheets and then bound; although the paper stock is uniform, the sizes of the individual leaves are not, hence some irregularity in the fore-edges, a few of which are gauffered.

The manuscript ends with what, in retrospect, seems a joke: in a later hand is written a colophon imitating that of a printed book and stating that the text was written and personally copied by Lorenzo Spirito and illustrated by his countryman Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), followed by a date which is sheer nonsense.

A. de Vesme - P. D. Massar, Stefano della Bella. Catalogue raisonné, Milano 1906 (New York 1971); T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83; A. Blunt, The Drawings of G.B. Castiglione and Stefano della Bella in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, London 1954; P. D. Massar, Presenting Stefano della Bella, Seventeenth-Century Printmaker, Greenwich, CT 1971; L. Hartmann, “Capriccio”. Bild und Begriff, Nürnberg 1973; C. Limentani Virdis, Disegni di Stefano della Bella, Sassari 1975; M. Catelli Isola (ed.), Disegni di Stefano della Bella 1610-1664. Dalle collezioni del Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Roma, Villa della Farnesina alla Lungara, 4 febbraio – 30 aprile 1976 (exhibition catalogue), Roma 1976; Le carte da gioco di Stefano della Bella (1610-1664), Firenze 1977; T. Ortolani (ed.), Stefano della Bella. Aggiornamento al “Catalogue raisonné” di A. de Vesme e Ph. D. Massar, 1996; L. Nadin, Carte da gioco e letteratura fra Quattro e Ottocento, Lucca 1997; D. Klemm, Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). Zeichnungen aus dem Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2009; D. Klemm (ed.), Von der Schönheit der Linie. Stefano della Bella als Zeichner. Hamburger Kunsthalle 25. Oktober 2013 bis 26. Januar 2014, Petersberg 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 202.

The ‘third’ sketchbook by Giuseppe Santini

5. Santini, Giuseppe (d. ca. 1717)

Libbro di Figure diuerse fatte nel 1663. in Liuorno. Libbro terso. Giuseppe Manuscript "sketchbook" on paper [1663].

Folio (398x270 mm). Twenty-six leaves, including the title-page, numbered 1-28 (leaves 8 and 9 are missing). Title-page within an elaborate burnt-sienna border. Six full-page drawings in burnt sienna numbered 2-7 (the first three are pasted), eight full-page drawings in pencil numbered 10-17, eight full-page drawings in burnt sienna, on same-color background, numbered 18-25, three full-page drawings in pencil, on light blue background, numbered 26-28. Most of the drawings bear the monogram 'gsf.' ('Giuseppe Santini fecit') and are surrounded by a double-fillet border. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Inked title on spine. Red edges. Some minor staining and fingermarks, somewhat loose.

A fine album of drawings, mostly executed in burnt sienna by Giuseppe Santini. Born in Pisa to a family originally from Barga, near Lucca. He was a pupil of the sculptor and engineer to the Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando Tacca, with whom he collaborated in 1661 on the staging of Ercole in Tebe, a drama performed in Florence on the occasion of Cosimo III's marriage to Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. From 1670 onwards he worked in Pisa as an engineer with the rank of captain and was put in charge of ditches and canalization works in the cultivated fields. In the following years, he supervised the construction of bridges, embankments, roads, and ramparts, and was responsible for the restoration of palaces, castles, churches and the Medici armory in Pisa. He also drew several topographical maps of the territories of Pistoia, Pisa, and Livorno; his surviving maps are extremely accurate and show his great ability both as a geographer and as a draftsman.

In addition to these primary endeavours, Santini was a skilled artist and collector of drawings, and during his site inspections on the countryside and in town he would always have with him a sketchbook and a pencil; indeed, most of his subjects are taken from life during his trips on horseback.

The album offered here contains mainly studies of naked male bodies, but also cherubs, a king, a saint or prophet, a female figure and a group with Muses and laureate poets. Santini's skillful hand shows the influence, alongside Volterrano, who drew similar subjects, of such artists as Giulio Parigi, Remigio Cantagallina, Ercole Bazzicaluva, Valerio Spada, and Jacques Callot.

Apparently Santini used to gather his own drawings in numbered books. The Fondazione Longhi collection had an album of drawings produced by Santini himself, called Libbro di diversi disegni per principianti fatto l'anno 1663 in Firenze Libbro decimo sesto, which was disassembled and sold in 1982. The album was composed of fifty-four sheets depicting landscapes; single figures of hunters, peasants, and armored knights; and anatomical studies of hands, feet, and heads.

The Uffizi likewise owns a surviving title-page by Santini and four of his drawings with subjects relating to Florence, all from another one of his albums, Disegni e capricci diversi copiati dal natural in diversi luoghi Libro Nono. The present album is – as the title states – the Libbro Terso, i.e., the third Book, and therefore represents an early moment in his artistic activity as well as an important finding in the history of Tuscan drawing at the second half of the seventeenth century.

M. Privitera, “Il capitano e ingegnere Giuseppe Santini, collezionista di disegni e disegnatore”, Paragone. Arte, 60 (2009), pp. 103-111; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 211.

Poetry, fortune, and gambling. The Spello-Game.

7. [Spello?]

Vago e diletteuole giuoco della diuitia di Spello. Illustrated manuscript on paper, in Italian. Spello (?), end of the seventeenth century- beginning of the eighteenth century.

273x205 mm. 34 leaves. Complete. Four quires. Collation: 18 (the first blank leaf used as front pastedown), 2-38, 410. Blanks: 1/1, 1/2r, 4/10. Contemporary inked foliation in the upper outer corner (used here). Written in brown ink in a unique hand, in neat cursive. Twelve vignettes drawn in brown ink; twelve full-page ink drawings within rectangular frames, partly coloured in brown, red, and greenish wash; some details in red- and brown-pencil heightening. Contemporary cardboards, smooth spine. Covers rather abraded and stained, corners and spine worn. In a marbled cardboard box, leather spine with title and the note 'M.S. XVII SEC.' lettered in gilt. An unsophisticated manuscript, some stains and spots, numerous traces of use. On the recto of the first leaf the note 'Perugia', in a different early hand.


The first section of the manuscript contains twelve vignettes, drawn in brown ink in popular style, depicting views and monuments of Spello and supplemented with captions, mainly in Italian vernacular. The subjects are as follows, as indicated by the inked captions:

fol. 3r: 'Colonia Iulia di Spello detta di Giulio Cesare' (below a Latin note 'Vel Hijspellum fuit prima Ciuitas per Ianum, id est Noè, Vmbria aedificata Vel Gornualia Hijspellum vocaretur – cornu Vallis per translationem');

fol. 3v: 'Antica Porta Venere. descritta con tre porte, e due Torri dalle bande, dall'Architetto Sebastiano Serlio Bolognese nel loco 3.° dell'Antichità';

fol. 4r: 'Carcere di Orlando Vicino alla Porta Venere di Spello, come ne scriue il detto Serlio Bolognese nelle sue Antichità';

fol. 4v: 'Misura di Orlando Nipote di Carlo Magno Imperatore, come nelle Mura di Spello nella publica Strada, che ua uerso Assisi';

fol. 5r: 'Antico Campo da Combattere Nel Territorio di Spello uicino la Via Flaminia, della cui antica virtù bellica ne fa anco mentione Silio Italico libro terzo Belli Punici';

fol. 5v: 'Antico Vocabolo Poeta al Colle uicino à Spello detto da Propertio Poeta, doue egli aueua la sua Villa Suburbium Propertij';

fol. 6r: 'Bagno del Fiume Clitunno dato à Spellani da Augusto Imperatore Oggi detto le Vene di Pissiniano';

fol. 6v: 'Nobile Antico Mausoleo uicino Spello circondato de Fenestrelle, doue Erano i lumi perpetui, oggi fatto Tempio alla Virgine Maria';

fol. 7r: 'Cerere Dea Rappresentata in Spello Con due Cornucopij per dimostrare l'abbondanza dell'antico Spello';

fol. 7v: 'Antiche tre Statue Gradi Consolari Poste nella uia Flaminia sopra la Porta principale di Spello';

fol. 8r: 'Antico Anfiteatro di Spello Colonia amplissima de Romani posto in mezzo alla gran Valle Spoletana, doue conueniuano tutti i Popoli dell'Umbria ai Spettacoli';

fol. 8v: 'Portone ò Arco uicino à Spello nella publica strada che ua uerso Assisi, doue con bel gioco uedrai se sei legitimo, ò no'.

The second part of the manuscripts contains twelve full-page drawings, in the same technique and style, depicting poets originating from Spello, with the indication of their names. The subjects are as follows:

fol. 9r: 'Il Poeta Mauro'

fol. 11r: 'Il Poeta Propertio'

fol. 13r: 'Il Poeta Vetruuio'

fol. 15r: 'Il Poeta Olorino'

fol. 21r: 'Il Poeta Dandola'

fol. 23r: 'Il Poeta Angelini'

fol. 25r: 'Il Poeta Gentile'

fol. 27r: 'Il Poeta Barbagnacca'

fol. 29r: 'Il Poeta Cecchi'

fol. 31r: 'Il Poeta Marcorelli'

fol. 17r: ‘Il Poeta Sforza'

fol. 19r: ‘Il Poeta Venantio'

An unrecorded, and extremely interesting variant of fortune-telling book, a genre that enjoyed wide popularity during the Renaissance. Manuscript versions of this game are all of the greatest rarity, owing to the fragility of supports and their extensive use at social occasions.

This manuscript is an adaption of the structure and rules of the game as developed in the Libro della Ventura of Lorenzo Spirito (ca. 1425-1496; see nos. 42 and 202) from Perugia, the first fortune-telling book produced in Italy which served as a source of inspiration for numerous later compilations, in print as well as in manuscript. Here the readers wandered not among celestial spheres, prophets, kings or philosophers, but rather among the history and cultural tradition of Spello in Umbria, the ancient Roman colony known as Hispellum. In fact, the anonymous author who produced – according to the title inscribed on the verso of the second leaf – this Vago, e diletteuole giuoco della diuitia di Spello sought to celebrate the ancient monuments of Spello, as well as the numerous poets born in this small Italian city over the centuries, such as the illustrious Propertius.

The game rules are explained in the preliminary pages. The players were to choose one of the questions listed ('Partiti da Proponersi dal Signore') pertaining to health, wealth, career, business, travel, and happiness in love and marriage. They then threw two dice and proceeded to locate the cast result in the following twelve tables of diagrams, each bearing, at the centre, a drawn vignette showing views or monuments of Spello. The diagrams would guide players to twelve sections of quatrains which provided answers to the chosen questions, each of them introduced by a full-page drawing depicting a poet born in Spello. Remarkably, the Spello-game – which doubles as a gambling game – also involves a stake with pecuniary value (called in the preliminary instructions Tesoro, and managed by a Tesoriere, or banker): in the quatrains the prediction of future events is therefore supplemented, in the final verse, with the notice of an amount to be payed or cashed out.

The last drawings portray poets active in the seventeenth century, a feature that allows us to date the execution of the present manuscript to the end of that century. In particular, the drawing on the recto of fol. 31 depicts the poet and musician Giovanni Francesco Marcorelli, who was an organist in the Collegiata Santa Maria at Spello between 1627-1634, and then active as maestro di cappella in the oratory of the Church of Santa Maria Nova in Rome. He also composed some oratories – in the present manuscript he is even shown writing a musical score – and he died around 1656.

T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83; M. Sensi – L. Sensi, “Fragmenta hispellatis historiae. 1. Istoria della terra di Spello, di Fausto Gentile Donnola”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, 8 (1984), pp. 7-136; A. Tini Brunozzi, “Appunti sulla toponomastica spellana”, ibid., 19 (1995), pp. 299-329; L. Nadin, Carte da gioco e letteratura fra Quattro e Ottocento, Lucca 1997; G. Proietti Bocchino, Spello città d'arte, Perugia 2011; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 220.

The damask chairs of the Imperial Diet

7. Imperial Diet Ceremonies

Disegni dei sedili e banchi nelli varj Apartamenti dell’Imperiale Palazzo di Vienna disposti per li Ministri ed Ufficiali aulici secondo il rispettivo loro grado cominciando dal Sedile di S.M.C. sopra 4. gradini sotto il Baldacchino.... Manuscript on paper, in French. Austria (?), mid-eighteenth century.

335x205 mm. [6] leaves. Six watercolours depicting the tables and armchairs (mostly coloured in green, brown, and red) in the Hofburg Imperial Apartments once used for meetings of the Imperial Diet. Contemporary marbled and gauffered paper. Italian title inked in a contemporary hand on the upper cover, small paper label on the spine, with early shelfmark. Paper rather abraded along the board edges. A well-preserved manuscript.

Fascinating album of six watercolours depicting the furnishings – especially the chairs, armchairs, and tables – of the great chambers of the Imperial Diet at the Hofburg in Vienna. The former imperial palace and main residence of the Habsburg dynasty rulers, the Hofburg is also the only court residence to have permanently been kept furnished. As the documented seat of government, its chambers provided the setting for countless ceremonies and delegate receptions for Diets held in Vienna, this being the highest representative assembly of the Holy Roman Empire.

The plates are titled, in French, La Sale de Re et Correlation; Le College Electoral; Le College des Princes; L'Appartement Electoral; L'Appartement des Princess; and Le College des Villes Imperiale. For each of the six plates, a legend is provided describing the furniture depicted as well as the relative placements of the Emperor and Prince-Electors, among other various representatives. Thus, for example, the plate Le College des Princes illustrates the furnishings for meetings presided over by the Imperial Diet's Council of Princes, including the chairs of its director, co-director, and secretaries, the bench for the bishops of Osnabrück and Lübeck, and even a clock – an 'horologe fait de la manière que celui de Strasbourg' – and small jam table – a 'table petite pour les Confitures'. The plate of the College Electoral, meanwhile, depicts a large table with a seat for the envoyés of the different Prince Electors, 'selon l'ordre suivant Mayence, Treves, Cologne, Bohême, Bavarie, Saxe, Brandenbourg, Palatin et Brounsvic': also in this chamber is a small table for Confitures that must not be missed. The tables here are covered in green velvet and the chairs are upholstered in a wonderful red damask rendered with especial care by the work's anonymous artist.

An album of watercolours (353x221 mm) titled Mobiliar der Zimmer zur Kaiserwahl and illustrating six identical subjects is now preserved in the Hessische Landesbiliothek Fulda (Hs 48). The Moravian Library in Brno holds a similar album, bearing the exact same German title, but with illustrations that have been rather carelessly executed.

This newly discovered manuscript is of the greatest import to the history of the Imperial Diet and its ceremonial traditions, as well as the history of eighteenth-century design in general.

G. von Demilić, The Hofburg in Vienna: Dwelling and Ceremonial Apartments of the Former Imperial Family, Vienna [ca. 1930]; H. Karner (ed.), Die Wiener Hofburg 1521-1705. Baugeschichte, Funktion und Etablierung als Kaiseresidenz, Wien 2014; L. Hellmut (ed.), Die Wiener Hofburg 1705-1835. Die kaiserliche Residenz vom Barock bis zum Klassizismus, Wien 2016; M. Beck, Macht-Räume Maria Theresias. Funktion und Zeremoniell in ihren Residenzen, Jagd- und Lustschlössern, Berlin 2017; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 233.

A Tuscan pioneer of Ballooning

8. Henrion, Francesco (fl. 18th century)

Arte Di scorrere a piacere negli Spazi aerei con le Macchine Aereostatiche, di Francesco Henrion Architetto Pittore Consistente nella Copia del Progetto da esso spedito all’Accademia di Scienze, Arti, e Belle Lettere di Lione in Francia In soluzione del Quesito da essa proposto richiedendo con il medesimo La Maniera la più sicura, La meno dispendiosa, e La più Efficace p[er] dirigere a Piacere le Macchine Aereostatiche. Autograph manuscript on paper, in Italian. Florence, 1785.

233x177 mm. I + 38 + I leaves. Complete. Five quires. Collation: 18, 210, 36, 410, 54. Blank: fol. 5/4. Contemporary foliation in the upper outer corner (with errors). Text written in brown ink. Twelve numbered drawings in ink (ten in the text, two as folding plates, 421x291 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, over pasteboards. Covers within blind-ruled fillet. Smooth spine, with title vertically lettered in gilt on morocco label. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, green silk bookmark, red edges. A well-preserved manuscript.

An important autograph manuscript by the engineer, architect and mineralogist from Pistoia Francesco Henrion, the most important Italian balloonist of his time.

At the beginning of 1784, only seven months after Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier's first public launch of their ‘globe volant' on 5 June 1783, Henrion launched an 'aerostatic globe' from the Ponte alla Carraia in Florence by releasing a skin-covered frame held over iron filings in a solution of sulphuric acid. Henrion's launch “initiated a frenzy of ascensions in Tuscany including one on 1 February 1784 that 'rose to a great height' but 'caught fire and came down immediately'. This, along with other accidents, led the Grand Duke of Tuscan to issue an edict on 13 April 1784 forbidding such activities in his territory” (M. L. Lynn, The Sublime Invention: Ballooning in Europe, 1783-1820, p. 16).

The present manuscript contains a detailed description, in twelve articoli (or chapters), of this 'macchina areostatica', which Henrion wrote in 1785 in an attempt to win the 1,200-livres prize offered by the Académie des Sciences, Arts et Belles Lettres in Lyon for an essay illustrating the most efficacious and least expensive manner of steering balloons.

The Bibliotèque municipale de Lyon owns the manuscript that Henrion sent to the Lyon Academy (Ms PA 231; cf. Delandine, Manuscripts de la Bibliothèque de Lyon, no. 1233, “Ce manuscrit d'une belle écriture [...] fut adressé à l'Académie de Lyon qui avoit proposé, en 1785, un prix sur ce sujet, et il forma le n. 99 du concours”). The Lyon manuscript is also divided into twelve chapters but contains only ten drawings, while the one offered here includes two additional ones.

Furthermore, on fol. 9r of the present manuscript Henrion left a blank space for inserting a portrait of 'Signor de Mongolfier', which was never realised by the author. Instead, he added a pencilled note 'In questo spazio deve esservi il ritratto di Mongolfier da me tralasciato p[er] non averlo'.

The manuscript described here – and presented by Henrion as a copy of the 'project' sent to the Lyon Academy – is therefore of the greatest importance and value for its inclusion of two additional drawings. It is quite possible that Henrion made a copy of the text sent to the 'Signori Componenti della rispettabile Accademia' (fol. 37v) for his patron, Pietro Leopoldo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Gazzetta Toscana, vol. 19, Firenze 1784, p. 35; A.-F. Delandine, Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque de Lyon, Lyon 1812, III, no. 1233; E. Crochane, Tradition and Enlightenment in the Tuscan Academies 1690-1800, Chicago 1961, p. 149; L.T.C. Rolt, The Aeronauts: A History of Ballooning, 1783-1903, New York 1966; R. Abate, Storia della areonautica italiana, Milano 1974; C. G. Gillespie, The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation: 1783-1184, Princeton, NJ 1983; J. Christopher, Riding the Jetstream: The Story of Ballooning from Montgolfier to Breitling, London 2001; D. Arecco, Mongolfiere, scienze e lumi nel tardo Settecento, Bari 2003 (esp. pp. 179-183); M. R. Lynn, The Sublime Invention: Ballooning in Europe, 1783-1820, London 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 248.