ARTICLE: Cristina Dagalita, De l’enluminure à la sculpture monumentale: le fou parmi les Vierges folles à la cathédrale de Strasbourg, in “Revue de l’art”, n. 192/2016-2, pp. 23-30.
ARTICLE: Cristina Dagalita, De l’enluminure à la sculpture monumentale: le fou parmi les Vierges folles à la cathédrale de Strasbourg, in “Revue de l’art”, n. 192/2016-2, pp. 23-30.
ARTICLES: Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Classe di Lettere e Filosofia, serie 5, 2015, 7/2.
Tra i molti articoli si segnalano:
* Giulia Ammannati, Virtù e Vizi nella Cappella degli Scrovegni: nuovi tituli recuperati (pp. 445-471)
* Chiara Frugoni, La forza politica delle immagini. A proposito di un recente libro sugli affreschi dei Lorenzetti nel Palazzo pubblico di Siena (pp. 495-500).
ARTICLE – Nigel Ramsay, Towards a Universal Catalogue of Early Manuscripts: Seymour de Ricci’s Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, in Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2016, pp. 71-89.
Seymour de Ricci’s Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, published by the Library of Congress in two volumes in 1935 and 1937 respectively, is a fundamental reference for the history of manuscripts in North American institutions and collections. This article explores the history of the Census’ production, in particular the challenges that De Ricci faced in completing the monumental task of creating a union catalogue of manuscripts before the dawn of the digital age.
ARTICLE: Stefania Buganza e Marco Rossi, Codici miniati e cultura figurativa a Brescia in età malatestiana, in Libri e lettori a Brescia tra Medioevo ed Età Moderna, a cura di Luca Rivali, Udine 2015 (Forum), pp. 39-61.
ARTICLE: Alesandro Cecchi, A portrait of a Florentine ‘cartolaio’ by Andrea del Sarto in the Natonal Gallery, in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CLVIII, number 1358, May 2016, pp. 331-335.
ARTICLE: Roberta Delmoro, Interferenze francesi nella produzione dei codici di lusso a Pavia sullo scadere del Trecento e qualche apertura sul primo Michelino da Besozzo, “Arte Medievale”, s. IV, a. V, 2015, pp. 235-260.
The particular political and cultural climate that emerged in Pavia after 1360-1361, with the establishing of the Visconti court, the building of the Castello and the founding of the Studium, stimulated an intense production of luxury codices characterized, in a number of cases, by deliberate compositional and decorative affinities with French – and especially Parisian – illuminated manuscripts of the second half of the fourteenth century. The scriptorium in Pavia best known to scholars, thanks to a corpus of manuscripts which can be attributed to it , is that of the Augustinian monastery of S. Pietro in Ciel d’Oro. Here, cooperating with the scriptorium, probably at the time he was working on the commissioned decoration of the second cloister of the monastery, the young Michelino da Besozzo had the opportunity of learning the art of illumination. This article attempts to define the characteristics of the painter’s early style.
ARTICLE: Sir Hans Sloane: Collector, Marmoset-Owner and Chocolate-Populariser, by Mary Wellesley.
On April the 16th was the anniversary of the birth of Sir Hans Sloane (b. 1660, d.1753), whose collection of manuscripts is one of the four ‘founder-collections’ which established the British Museum by Act of Parliament in the year of his death, 1753.
Born in Ireland, Sloane was a physician and collector, who was elected to the Royal Society at the age of just 24. Perhaps Sloane’s most meaningful contribution to our national life, however, was the introduction and popularisation of Hot Chocolate in Britain. While in Jamaica with the Duke of Albermarle in the late 1680s, Sloane tried cocoa – a drink prized by local people. He found it ‘nauseous’ but discovered that by mixing it with milk, it became palatable.
On his return to Britain in 1689, he marketed the drink as a medicine. (That’s my kind of medicine.) Amongst Sloane’s papers are the notebooks of Samuel Bellingham which contain two 17th century chocolate recipes.
In addition to his contemporary interest in medicine, Sloane also collected medieval and early modern medical manuscripts, including a beautiful 15th century Italian herbal, Sloane MS 4016 and treatises on gynaecology and cosmetics written by a female professor at the University of Salamanca (copied in Sloane MS 420, Sloane MS 434, Sloane MS 783, Sloane MS 1124, and Sloane MS 249).
Ahead of his time, Sloane advocated inoculations, even on his own family and he believed in contributing to the public good. When he was appointed physician in charge of Christ’s hospital in 1694, he returned his salary yearly to the hospital to help needy inmates. He was an avid collector, collecting not only books and manuscripts, but also – in the words of John Evelyn – ‘Plants, Corralls, Minerals, Earth, shells, animals, Insects etc: collected by him with greate Judgement’.
He also had an impressive array of household pets, which included a blind Arctic Fox (whose cataracts he removed), several sea turtles, a porcupine from Hudson’s Bay, a one-eyed wolverine and a marmoset with overgrown incisors.
On his death, Sloane left a complex will. In the words of his friend Thomas Birch, he was anxious that ‘his collections might be kept together for the instruction and Benefit of others engaged in the same pursuits’. After some wrangling, his vision was achieved. When he died, Sloane’s collection was integrated into three other collections: one gathered by Sir Robert Cotton and two gathered by the 1st and 2nd Earls of Oxford, known as the Harley collections.
The result was the founding collection of the British Museum — the manuscripts of which transferred to the British Library in 1973, arriving at the current St Pancras site, a beautiful Grade I listed building, in 1997.
ARTICLE: A New Cutting by the So-Called Master of Monza, by Peter Kidd.
In a previous post I reproduced some of the series of late 13th-century cuttings from a volume of saints’ lives, formerly attributed to a Spanish artist in the circle of the Master of the Beatus of San Andrés de Arroyo in La Spezia, but now re-attributed to a Lombard illuminator.
Since then, at least one more has come back on the market, from the Zeileis collection. The most detailed study of the manuscript and the artist is Giovanni Valagussa, Santi Lombardi di fine Duecento. Scritti per l’istituto germanico di Storia dell’ Arte di Firenze, Florence, 1997, pp. 23-34. He showed that the style could be related to Lombard works, including a fresco at Cremona, south-east of Milan, and especially a choirbook probably made for a church in Monza, a short distance north-east of Milan, as suggested by the fact that it includes the rare local saint St Theodolinda.
The Monza manuscript is now in Krakow, Poland (Bibl. Jagiellonska, Rps. akc 20/1951), in the catalogue of which the Monza origin is proposed, and hence the artist is named the Miniatore di Monza: Zofia Ameisenowa,Rękopisy i Pierwodruki Iluminowane Biblioteki Jagiellońskej, Wrocław, 1958, pp. 16-18, figs. 14-17.
Palmira, a volte mi sembrava d’esserci già stato, per quanto avevo letto delle sue rovine, studiate le sculture nei vari musei del mondo, ma non mi sarei potuto rassegnare a non vederla sul vero.
La strada a colonne si vedeva quasi d’infilata, con i fusti color ruggine, contro i monti color ruggine e invece, a terra, la polvere color di cenere. Dall’altro lato le palme azzurre contro i colli che parevano soffici nei loro colori di gatto siamese. Allora le montagne che sapevano di gatto furono un nuovo fascicno di Palmira. E il cielo era sempre più chiaro nell’arsura del sole.
Tutto il panorama, nel suo perimetro antico, si abbracciava con un’occhiata, il Tempio di Bel, e la Via colonnata, l’Agorà, il Teatro: tutto era chiaro come in un plastico; e invece stava sotto gli occhi nella sua realtà e per un’estensione che non si riusciva a definire, perché non c’era una misura reciproca fra i monti e le colonne.
Quella che da lontano sembrava cenere non è polvere, ma sabbia che il contrasto con la pietra roggia faceva diventare grigia, quasi cerulea. Sabbia che ricopre di già quel che una volta era stato rimesso in luce, cosicché invano si cerca di capire come fosse l’esedra prima di arrivare all’Arco trionfale.
Per prima cosa volli vedere le tombe: bisognava camminare ed era bene scegliere le ore meno bollenti. Mentre ci avvicinavamo alla tomba detta dei Tre Fratelli, notavo, e mi era sfuggito in principio, che da quella parte la natura della montagna cambiava, perdeva il rosso, le rosicchiature; apparivano colline tondeggianti che facevano l’effetto di una negativa, in quanto che invertivano i colori come è solito vederli.
Dentro la torre, che aveva la porta coi battenti di pietra, c’è altri sarcofaghi e loculi da gente più povera, sovrapposti come scansie: scansie piene di morti. Naturalmente, sculture quasi non ce n’è più. Sono quelle che trovate a Costantinopoli, a Londra, a Parigi, in America. Il saccheggio di Palmira forse non ebbe paragoni.
Poi dal pianoterreno si sale, con un’elegante scaletta nello spessore del muro, al piano superiore dove si ripete la teoria delle scansie, e così via fino al tetto, se tetto vi era, o terrazza. Da cima a queste torri il panorama mantiene la sua struttura eccezionale: le torri, così qua e là, sembrano in movimento e che non si debbono mai ritrovare al solito posto.
Ed io pensavo a questo modo quasi fatale che hanno di cristallizzarsi, ad un certo punto, le più alte tradizioni plastiche: quasi fatale, perché dipende solo dall’altezza dell’ingegno se qui si assiste ad un’operazione da marmorari irreprensibile, e là si resta col fiato sospeso, quando quei cerchi concentrici, quelle striature papillari si producono a Gandara o in Agostino di Duccio.
Così mi ero seduto all’ombra di una colonna, investito a tratti da una folata di sabbia e di vento, ma fresco, sotto il sole ardentissimo e ormai a picco. Di tanto in tanto passava un cammello con un beduino accovacciato sopra. Attraversava le rovine con l’indolenza pari alla grazia che ha il cammello quando cammina: bestia che non si sa mai di quante bestie sia fatta. Ed ha la testa da uccello, e il collo da serpente, e le gambe come di trampoliere.
Una sola musica vorrei sentire io qua, sebbene non ci abbia a che fare, visto che ha perso da tempo anche il titolo che giustifica il mio desiderio. Nel piccolo teatro vorrei sentire la sinfonia dell’Aureliano in Palmira, che è poi quella del Barbiere.
Certo la musica di Rossini così scherzosa e liquida, perennemente fresca, qui in questo deserto rovente non troverebbe eco, la beverebbe tutta la sabbia, neanche un suono arriverebbe agli orecchi. Nulla di meno romano, di meno archeologico, di meno storicamente evocativo della tremenda punizione che Aureliano inflisse alla città, dopo che la seconda volta Zenobia s’era voltata.
Dunque è un desiderio insensato il mio e la Sinfonia del Barbiere è ormai quella del Barbiere e giustamente di Palmira se n’è cancellato anche il nome. Non importa. Quella sinfonia è l’ultimo appello poetico della distrutta Palmira: il resto è storia, archeologia, è sapere. La sinfonia non è sapere, e Palmira ci sta dentro allo stesso diritto che il Vesuvio nella Ginestra.
Cesare Brandi, Città del deserto, Roma 1958
NEWS: Stanford scholar discovers previously unknown Magna Carta scribe, by Angela Becerra Videgar (The Humanities at Stanford).
Using handwriting analysis, Stanford manuscript expert Elaine Treharne shows for the first time that one of the world’s most famous documents was written not by the king’s own scribes, but by a cathedral scribe outside the central court.
Eight hundred years ago, one of the world’s most important documents was born. Issued by King John of England in 1215, the Magna Carta (“Great Charter”) acknowledged the rights of citizens and set restrictions on the power of the king. The Magna Carta has influenced the structures of modern democracies, including the writ of habeas corpus of the U.S. Constitution.
Thanks to meticulous comparative handwriting analysis, Stanford literary scholar Elaine Treharne has uncovered new information about who wrote one of the last four surviving original versions of the 1215 Magna Carta, preserved at England’s Salisbury Cathedral.
Scholars have long thought that the Magna Carta was issued by the king in the Chancery, the king’s central court, written by his scribes there and then sent out to other locations in the shires, or counties, of England.
According to Treharne, her research suggests the Salisbury Magna Carta was not just received and preserved at Salisbury, but that the Salisbury Magna Carta was written at Salisbury by one of the cathedral’s own scribes. She recently co-published her findings with University of Glasgow historian Andrew Prescott.
Treharne, a professor of English at Stanford, says that knowing about this difference in authorship “changes the way we think about the transmission of texts in the Middle Ages from the court.”
Instead of the charter being something passive that the king produced and sent out from the central court to be put away in satellite locations, Treharne says versions of the charter “were written in the regions and then taken to the court for sealing by the king’s Great Seal.”
This reconfiguration of the Magna Carta‘s path signals “a much more proactive relationship between institutions and king,” the scholar says. “It makes us look again at the role of the church in relationship to the king. They become much more partners, really, in the production of texts.”
ARTICLE: Influential Illumination: British Library Loans to Lens, by Hannah Morcos.
Three of the British Library’s medieval manuscripts are currently on loan to an exhibition at Louvre-Lens. D’Or et d’ivoire: Paris, Pise, Florence, Sienne, 1250–1320 explores the artistic relations between Paris and Tuscany. Over 125 exhibits illustrate the creative exchanges taking place in architecture, sculpture, ivory carving, metalwork, and painting in the 13th and early 14th centuries. The British Library manuscripts offer three superb examples of the opulence and innovation of Parisian manuscript illumination in this period.
Two of the manuscripts are associated with the Sainte-Chapelle, the incredible royal chapel built by Louis IX of France (r. 1226–1270) to store his relics. The first, Harley MS 2891, is a missal with several historiated initials, and two glorious full-page miniatures of the Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty on diaper grounds.
The second Sainte-Chapelle manuscript, Add MS 17341, is a lectionary probably made for Philip IV (r. 1285–1314). It is almost an exact copy of a manuscript made twenty years earlier (now Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 17326). However, its artist displays a greater interest in naturalism and spatial illusion, whilst replicating the content and position of the illustrations in its exemplar. Over 260 exquisite historiated initials depict biblical scenes, the majority of which are ‘ladder initials’, encompassing multiple compartments.
The extraordinary illuminations in Add MS 17341 have been tentatively associated with the most celebrated of Parisian artists, Maître Honoré (fl. 1288–1318). The name of this influential illuminator is known from a note in a manuscript he illuminated of the Decretum Gratiani (Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 558; miniatures from the manuscript can be found here). Maître Honoré’s name also features in a number of Parisian tax registers.
The large tax bills he paid reveal the significant sums this high-end illuminator demanded for his services. His style marks a key development in Parisian illumination, in particular his shading and use of colour. It has been suggested that the delicate and rounded features of his figures reflect the influence of Italian (Sienese?) painting. The innovations of Maître Honoré and his workshop were at the centre of a renaissance in Parisian illumination, and one which took inspiration from artistic styles beyond the confines of northern France.
Maître Honoré has also been linked to the third manuscript on loan to Louvre-Lens, Add MS 54180. It is another manuscript likely to have been made for the French king, Philip IV (r. 1285–1314). Add MS 54180 contains a copy of Brother Laurent’s La Somme le Roi, a moral compendium originally compiled in 1279 for Philip’s father, Philip III of France (r. 1270–1285). Two illuminated folios removed from Add MS 54180 are now Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 192 and MS 368.
For the exhibition’s curator Xavier Decrot, the three British Library manuscripts are ‘seminal in showing the importance of Paris as a centre for luxury production, and especially, the exceptional quality of the illuminators at this time, not only evident in liturgical manuscripts like the Missal and the Fourth Lectionary of the Sainte-Chapelle, but also in other types of book, such as the extraordinary version by Maître Honoré of Brother Laurent’s La Somme le Roi, probably the most beautiful manuscript produced in the period.’
NEWS: Charles Burney and his Manuscript Collection, by Cillian O’Hogan.
In the first of an occasional series, we take a look at an important named collection of manuscripts at the British Library. One of the most significant gatherings of classical material in the British Library is to be found in the Burney collection of manuscripts.
This collection, comprising 525 volumes, was assembled by Charles Burney (b. 1757, d. 1817), classicist and bibliophile. Son of the famous historian of music Charles Burney and brother of the novelist Fanny Burney, he was also an avid collector of printed books, newspapers, and playbills, all of which were purchased by the British Museum after his death.
While the Burney manuscripts are best known for the fine classical manuscripts to be contained therein, this is only a small part of the collection. Burney also collected important manuscripts of the Bible and of the Greek and Latin Church Fathers, as well as a wide range of papers and letters belonging to classical scholars.
A more detailed guide to Burney, his life, and his manuscripts, can be found in a virtual exhibition on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts website.