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Publius VERGILIUS MARO. Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Manuscrit écrit par l'humaniste Uberto Decembrio, Milan 1417, et enluminé par Tomasino da Vimercate, maître d'Heures de Modène
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Publius VERGILIUS MARO. Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Manuscrit écrit par l'humaniste Uberto Decembrio, Milan 1417, et enluminé par Tomasino da Vimercate, maître d'Heures de Modène. Cet oeuvre précieux fut saisi de Joseph Bonaparte en Espagne lorsqu'il battit en retraite de Vitoria le 21 Juin 1813; le jour suivant il fut présenté a Wellington.\n\nbrio and illuminated by Tomasino da Vimercate, Master of the Modena Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM\n\nMilan, 1417\n335 x 230mm. i+184+i leaves: 1-238, COMPLETE, catchwords in the inner corner of the lower margin of the final verso of each gathering, signature marks or parts of signature marks on the first folios of most gatherings, 40 lines written in a small round gothic bookhand in black ink on a ruling of 3 scored vertical lines and 41 horizontal lines in pale ink, the initial letter of each line against the first vertical and the rest of the word beginning against the second, justification: 205 x 106mm, paragraph marks, rubrics and marginal titles in Bucolica in red, TWENTY-SEVEN ILLUMINATED INITIALS 3 lines high with staves of pink, blue or green against grounds of burnished gold and with infills and marginal sprays of orange, green, pink and blue foliage with white pen-work detailing, SEVENTEEN LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS accompanied by marginal sprays or, at the major text openings, three-sided borders made up of baguettes of burnished gold, pink and blue with white decoration from which spring foliage sprays of two types, either an imitation of French ivy-leaf rinceaux or scrolling tendrils of pink and blue with wheat-ear terminals and flowers and leaves of pink, blue, orange, red and green, diagram of the zones of heaven (small pigment losses from the foliage of the miniatures on ff.1 and 12v, partial erasure of the arms and slight thumbing to the margin of f.1). Early 19th-century Spanish royal binding of mottled calf, spine gilt with red morocco lettering piece (some small abrasions).\n\nTHIS IMPORTANT MANUSCRIPT PERFECTLY EXEMPLIFIES EARLY RENAISSANCE COURT HUMANISM, COMBINING SCHOLARLY INTEREST IN CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY WITH A TASTE FOR THE ELEGANT AND COURTLY IN MINIATURE PAINTING.\n\nPROVENANCE:\n\n1. The partially erased arms in the lower border of f.1 appear to have been of red and gold with a displayed eagle in chief; these may have been the arms of Giovanni Ferruffini - gules a band or, on a chief of the last a displayed eagle sable. Ferruffini was a judge and a counsellor to the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti. Two other manuscripts bear his coats of arms: a Homilies of Basil the Great in Greek, Oxford, Bodl. Lib. Auct.T.4.16, and a 13th-century French copy of the glossed Epistles of St Paul (Paris, Bib. Nat. lat. 665) that was item 564 of the 1426 inventory of the Visconti library in Pavia. The border of trees with perching birds and the arms and monogram of Ferruffini that was added to the opening folio of the Pauline Epistles is also in the style of Tomasino da Vimercate; it seems most likely that after having had this illumination added to the Epistles, Ferruffini presented the manuscript to Filippo Maria Visconti. It was for Filippo Maria that the 1426 inventory of the library at Pavia was compiled .\n\nFerruffini's scholarly interest in classical literature and his humanist contacts are well documented; he was a friend of Francesco Filelfo, and in 1432 Panormita entrusted him to deliver some gatherings of his commentary on Plautus. Whether or not the present manuscript was made for Ferruffini it is likely to have remained in Milan until at least the middle of the 15th century for many of the marginal corrections are made in a Milanese humanistic hand of that date.\n\n2. Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé, Salamanca. Ownership inscription and shelfmark 194 on opening folio; a note on the rear flyleaf, Todas las obras de lo Vergilio in a late 15th- or early 16th-century hand indicates the manuscript's early arrival in Spain, and it was recorded as item 194 in an inventory of the college's library in 1550. It remained there until 1802 or 1803 when it was transferred with the other manuscripts to Charles IV's palace in Madrid.\n\n3. Royal Library, Palacio de Oriente, Madrid. It is assumed that the manuscript remained here until Joseph Bonaparte, installed by Napoleon as King of Spain in 1808, transferred his headquarters to Valladolid in March 1813.\n\n4. Joseph Bonaparte, until 21 June 1813: his stamp "JB Grand Electeur" on the front endpaper. The manuscript was part of the booty that Joseph Bonaparte had with him when he was retreating from Vitoria following the defeat of the French army by the Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish under the command of Wellington. According to one account, when pursued and fired on by Captain Henry Wyndham of the 14th Light Dragoons and Lieutenant the Marquess of Worcester of the 10th Hussars, the king abandoned the carriage he was fleeing in and escaped on horseback leaving behind 220 paintings, State papers and private letters, manuscripts, drawings, prints, porcelain, linen and silver; much of this booty was delivered to Wellington the following day.\n\n5. Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Wellington, created Duke of Wellington in May 1814. Wellington offered to return all that had been taken from the royal palace but Ferdinand VII declared his acquisition of the goods just and honourable.\n\nCONTENT:\n\nff.1-12v Eclogues; ff.12v-43 Georgics; f.43v Ovid's verses on the Aeneid; ff.43v-183v Aeneid; f.184 verses opening Ergo ne suppremis potuit vox improba verbis; f.184v colophons of Uberto Decembrio in Latin and Greek, giving the place and date of completion as Milan, 20 July 1417; verses extracted by Varius and Tucca from Book 2, opening Ad terra(m) misere aut ignibus egra dedere.\n\nThroughout the Middle Ages, in spite of his transformation into a necromancer in popular legend and literature, Virgil continued to be read. In part this was because of the Christian interpretation given to some aspects of his work, but with the early renaissance interest in the poet an increasing number of illustrated manuscripts came to be made. Nonetheless, the Aeneid illustrations of the present manuscript have been identified as the only cycle to date from the first half of the 15th century (Courcelle, p.129). Three slightly earlier Virgil manuscripts survive that were illuminated in Paris 1403-1412, the earliest probably for presentation to the Duke of Berry, brother-in-law of Filippo-Maria Visconti's father. In view of the fact that there is no certain evidence of the original patron and that the manuscript remained in Milan until at least the middle of the century, it is tempting to think that the book may have been made for presentation to Filippo Maria Visconti. The Visconti claimed descent from Aeneas - the Genealogy that accompanies the Funeral Eulogy of Giangaleazzo Visconti dated 1403 begins with the marriage of Venus and Anchises and ends with the young Filippo Maria. Filippo Maria later had several classical authors translated into Italian and the manuscript copies that he commissioned were illuminated by the Master of the Vitae Imperatorum, the stylistic successor of Tomasino da Vimercate.\n\nSCRIBE:\n\nUberto Decembrio, who signed this manuscript with colophons in Latin and Greek on f.184v, was one of the first-generation Lombard humanists. His early employment was as secretary to the Greek humanist Pietro Filargo, one of the scholars with whom Giangaleazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, surrounded himself. Filargo had been appointed bishop of Novara in 1389 and went on to become Archbishop of Milan and finally Pope Alexander VI. It was whilst he was in Filargo's service and engaged on diplomatic missions for Giangaleazzo that Decembrio formed his enduring friendships with Coluccio Salutati and other Florentine humanists. Decembrio accompanied Filargo to Prague for the negotiations to secure the investiture of Giangaleazzo Visconti with the dukedom of Milan and in reward for his part in the successful conclusion of these negotiations, Decembrio was made conte palatino by Giangaleazzo. Of equal significance for Decembrio was the friendship forged between him and the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras. It was their collaboration and production of a Latin translation that allowed the first diffusion of Plato's Republic in Italy and the North.\n\nIn 1404 Decembrio left Filargo's service to join the Visconti chancery, but his attempts to mediate between the descendants of Giangaleazzo led to his imprisonment for 18 months from January 1411. After his release he resumed work in the chancery of the third duke, Filippo Maria Visconti but his circumstances remained unsettled, and in 1413 he wrote to Chrysoloras complaining of difficulties with his health, regaining his possessions and in settling his children. His position became more secure and in 1418 when Martin V came to Milan to dedicate the new cathedral Decembrio recited the oration in his honour. His troubles ended when his son Pier Candido became ducal secretary in 1419; it was after this date that he wrote what is regarded as his most important work, the political treatise De Republica dedicated to Filippo Maria Visconti.\n\nDecembrio is known to have transcribed several works, usually for his own use, but the note of costs on the final flyleaf shows that in this case the manuscript was written for payment; Uberto received one ducat for each gathering.\n\nILLUMINATION:\n\nThe manuscript is illuminated throughout by Tomasino da Vimercate, otherwise known as the Master of the Modena Hours, the leading Milanese illuminator of his day. His earliest and best-known works are Books of Hours that were probably made for members of the Visconti court. The early folios of one of these, a manuscript in The Hague that was later completed for Isabella of Castile (Kon. Bib., MS 76.F.6), are among his most inventive and delightful works: the borders range from a continuous narrative of the Virgin's journey to the home of St Elisabeth, to a pair of tall and verdant trees holding nesting birds that have naked putti shinning up them. He illuminated a wide variety of texts, both religious and literary, and ranging from chancery documents to luxury books. He was one of the illuminators of an extensively illustrated copy of the Divine Comedy (Florence, Bib. Naz. BR39) and the initial on f.98 of the present manuscript is very close to some of the scenes of the descent of Dante and Virgil into the underworld in that book. Similarly the community of characters who people his illumination reappear in different contexts: in spite of the classical subject matter of Virgil's text the narrative is acted out by amiable figures wearing clothes and armour that would have been familiar to his courtly patrons. Tomasino worked for ecclesiastical institutions as well as members of the Visconti court, and it is a documented work for the Cathedral of Milan that has allowed him to be identified; in 1409 Thomasinus de Vicomercato illuminated a volume of extracts from the doctrine of St Ambrose for the Duomo library (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Mus. CFM 9). One of the types of border that decorates that manuscript is made up of the same imitation French ivy-leaf sprays that curl around the opening folio of this Virgil; this was an adoption that had great vogue in Milanese and Pavian illumination from the 1390s. Whatever the document or text that Tomasino was illuminating he brought to it the same inventive and decorative qualities that are evident in the lively and accomplished miniatures of this Virgil. The present manuscript is the latest dated or dateable example of his work and in a career that lasted 25-30 years Tomasino showed little stylistic evolution; charming and animated scenes filled with naturalistic and anecdotal detail were a constant feature of his illumination, and were in constant demand from Milan's most discriminating patrons.\n\nThe subjects of the miniatures are as follows:\n\nf.1 Meliboeus, the dispossessed farmer herding the remains of his flock sees Tityrus the shepherd lying under a beech tree playing a slender reed - in this case a bagpipe - other shepherds in the margins, coat of arms in the border below (opening of Eclogues)\nf.12v Two agricultural workers, one hoeing and the other ploughing behind two oxen (opening Georgics Book 1, on field crops)\nf.20 A peasant pruning a vine growing through a tree (Book 2, on trees) f.27v Four groups of beasts, sheep, cattle, horses and deer, ranged beneath the arms of the initial T (Book 3, on beasts)\nf.35v Bees swarming around three beehives on a bench in a riverside meadow (Book 4, on bees)\nf.44 Architectural initial containing a scene with Troy burning in the background and a cluster of ships filled with men sailing off in the foreground (opening of the Aeneid, Book 1)\nf.54v Dido crowned and Aeneas with a golden staff sit on a raised couch as Aeneas recounts the destruction of Troy; two groups of men listen in the foreground (Book 2)\nf.65v The city of Troy burning in the background behind four galleys sailing across the sea in the foreground (Book 3)\nf.76 Dido falling onto the Dardan sword on her couch, the pyre burning in front of it (Book 4)\nf.85 The games being played in Sicily with Aeneas and others watching from a loggia in the background and two combatants - perhaps Entellus and Dares - fighting beside Anchises' tomb (Book 5)\nf.98 In the left foreground stand Aeneas and the Sibyl looking toward the parting of the ways in the underworld, the path to the left leading up to Elysium, with small naked praying souls, and the path to the right leading down to Tartarus where the wicked are punished by a black horned demon, in the foreground another demon serves as Charon ferrying a boat across the Styx (Book 6)\nf.111 The funeral of Caieta, Aeneas' nurse; her body lies on a bier, two men stand at the head and a group of white-robed figures stand behind it, the foremost is tonsured and holds a book and a leafy branch over the corpse (Book 7)\nf.123v Turnus, Aeneas' rival for the hand of Lavinia and identifiable by his triple-plumed helmet, is among the forces of Latium mustering to make war on the Trojans (Book 8)\nf.132 Turnus and the Rutulian army armed with crossbows besiege the Trojan camp; the Trojans defend themselves with spears and stones (Book 9)\nf.144v Turnus and the Rutulian army face the Trojan forces before battle, the mounted forces in the rear and the foot soldiers in the foreground (Book 10)\nf.157v The body of the slain Mezentius lies in the foreground, and Aeneas and his troops pursue the fleeing Etruscans (Book 11) f.170v Aeneas stands with his sword raised over the head of the kneeling and wounded Turnus (Book 12)\n\nA. Hobson, 'Manuscripts captured at Vitoria', Cultural Aspects of the Italian Renaissance: Essays in honour of Paul Oscar Kristeller, New York, 1976, pp.485-496\n\nP. and J. Courcelle, 'Les manuscrits illustrés de l'Énéide du Xe au XVe siècle', Lecteurs paiens et lecteurs chrétiens de l'Énéide, ii (Paris, 1984), pp.129-133
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*Merci de noter que le prix n'est pas recalculé à la valeur actuelle, mais se rapporte au prix final réel au moment où l'objet a été vendu.


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