One of the oldest and most beautiful surviving copies of Dante’s “Inferno” is preserved in Italy in San Daniele del Friuli, near Udine. It is part of the astonishing collection of over 12,000 manuscripts owned by theBiblioteca Guarneriana, one of Europe’s most ancient public libraries, founded in 1466 by scholar ad humanist Guarnerio d’Artegna.
The manuscript – catalogued as “ms. Fontaniano 200” – was copied in the XIVth century. It is fully illustrated with high quality miniatures, and containes two commentaries of Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece: one, written in Latin, by Graziolo de’ Bambaglioli, the other composed in Italian “volgare” between 1324 and 1334 by an anonymous but very intriguing author.
Guarneriana’s Codex 200 has been studied by several scholars and is now available in a very accurate fac-simile edition by Italian publisherRoberto Vattoriwhich will be presented, together with two important fac-simile editions of Longobard manuscripts by Capsa Ars Scriptoria (Codice Cividalese XXVIII, Paolus Diaconus’s “Historia Langobardorum”, and Codex Cavensis 4, “Leges Langobardorum), during the “MEDIOEVALIA: Medioevo e Medioevi in Guarneriana” Conference on October 22, 2016.
VISIONS OF A JUDGEMENT – As reported on the World Digital Library, “around the year 776, a monk by the name of Beato or Beatus, possibly the abbot of the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, wrote a work entitled Comentarios al Apocalipsis (Commentary on the apocalypse), which had an extraordinary success in the following five centuries. Thanks to his great erudition, Beato combined in this text, as a summa, many commentaries on the topic of the apocalypse by such authors as Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Isidore of Seville, and the 4th-century scholar Ticonius. The genre of apocalyptic literature appeared in the Jewish tradition in the second century BC and had never ceased to be practiced. Obsessed like his contemporaries with the imminent coming of the end of the world, which, according to the calculations of the six ages was to take place in the year 800 (838 in the Spanish era), Beato wrote this work for the edification of his monks. He emphasized that, after the final terrifying catastrophes announced by Saint John the Evangelist, good would triumph over evil”.
The original codex most likely was illuminated but unfortunately has not been preserved. Only 35 manuscript copies dating from the 9th century to the 13th century have survived. By semantic extension, these manuscripts are called beato, and 26 of them are illuminated while some others are only fragments. Two are preserved at the BNE, the National Library of Spain.
EXPO & WEBSITE – The BNE exposition will mainly feature the most iconic manuscript of the corpus, the so called “Facundus” – Codex Vitr/14/2 -, commissioned in 1047 by King Fernando I of León and Castille and Queen Sancha, and possibly done by a monk or scribe named Facundo in San Isidoro de León. Its 98 miniatures, endowed with amazing expressiveness, are distributed mostly on colorful horizontal stripes in a unique and unmistakable style that blends the Romanesque with various Mozarab and North African influences. Prominent among them are the Four Horsemen, the vision of celestial Jerusalem, the seven-headed snake, and the destruction of Babylon. The manuscript, owned by the Marquis of Mondéjar in the late 17th century, was confiscated with the rest of his library by Philip V during the War of the Spanish Succession.
The BNE has also announced the creation of a website entirely dedicated to the corpus of manuscripts. The series of the Beatus codexes have been included in the Unesco Memory of the World Register in 2015.
An exhibition of over 120 illuminated pages and initials from one of the most important collections of miniatures worldwide, once owned by Count Vittorio Cini and presented to the Foundation in 1962
VENICE (ITALY) – A great exhibition entitled Mindful Hands. Masterpieces of Illumination from the Fondazione Giorgio Ciniis due to be staged on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice from 17 September 2016 to 8 January 2017 (official opening: Friday, 16 September 2016). Produced by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Studio Michele De Lucchi and Factum Arte, the exhibition is being organised with the support of the Helen Hamlyn Trust and the contribution of Pirelli. For the first time in over 35 years more than half of one of the most fascinating, invaluable Fondazione Cini collections will be on show: the collection of 236 miniatures acquired by Count Vittorio Cini from the Libreria Antiquaria Hoepli in Milan in 1939-1940, and presented to the Foundation in 1962. Visitors will be able to admire a selection of over 120 of the most significant and important miniatures in the collection plus a group of particularly fine illuminated codices. The academic curators of the project are Federica Toniolo, a lecturer in the History of Illuminated Manuscripts at the University of Padua, and Massimo Medica, director of the Museo Civico Medievale, Bologna, who were also responsible for cataloguing the entire collection.
One of the most important of its kind in the world, the Vittorio Cini miniature collection is made up of anthologies of illuminated leaves and cuttings of initials, mostly from liturgical works (graduals and antiphonals), comparable both in type and quality to collections such as the Wildenstein, now in the Musée Marmottan, Paris, or the Lehman collection, previously in storage in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The Cini collection is representative of the principal regional Italian schools of manuscript illumination and includes works by some of the most pre-eminent illuminators, active from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
“Mindful Hands is part of the series of major exhibitions that the Fondazione Cini periodically holds to showcase its own collections, a remarkable heritage in historical, artistic and scholarly terms but little-known to the wider public”, explains Pasquale Gagliardi, Secretary General of the Fondazione Cini. “We have been working on this ambitious project focused on the collection of miniatures for years. The collection is unique in Italy and among the few of such high quality in the world. We achieved excellent results in terms of visitors and critical reception for the 2010 exhibition on the etchings of Giambattista Pianesi, for which all the works came from the archives of San Giorgio Maggiore. This encouraged us to continue the mission of promoting the so-called minor arts. And in fact the illuminators’ superb craftsmanship is in no way inferior to that of artists in other sectors of art.”
Produced with the coordination of the scholarly aspects by the Fondazione Cini Institute of Art History, the exhibition will have a fascinating itinerary created ad hoc for the spaces of the Sale del Convitto by the Studio Michele De Lucchi, aimed at also intriguing the non-specialist visitor. The exhibition will also be an opportunity to explore a specific phenomenon of collecting and taste: the practice of dismembering manuscripts – now deplorable – and putting only the leaves with figures, often only cuttings with initials, on the antiquarian market.
The only exhibit that does not now belong to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini is the magnificent Antiphonarium Q, on display courtesy of the library of the Benedictine Abbey of San Giorgio. A detached leaf from this codex is now in the Cini collection and it will be shown alongside the book at the beginning of the exhibition, thus virtually reuniting them and stressing that the image must always be seen in its textual context.
But Mindful Hands is much more than a straightforward display of exhibits. An integral part of the project has been the collaboration with Adam Lowe’s Factum Arte, experts on digital techniques applied to the conservation, reproduction and interpretation of works of art. Digital media organised in a thoroughgoing art installation will highlight and “translate” this extraordinary heritage in a modern key. In this way visitors will be guided through the last sections devoted to the analysis and comprehension of the techniques involved in making illuminated manuscripts. There will also be an opportunity to examine close up two of the most precious manuscripts thanks to large-scale animations and reproductions: the Martirologio di Ferrara and the small but invaluable Book of Hours, commissioned by Ludovico il Moro. In addition, Factum Arte will make a facsimile of the Book of Hours for visitors to touch and leaf through.
The Helen Hamlyn Trust is an independent grant making Trust. Its principal focus is on the initiation of medium and long-term projects linked to the shared interests of Lady Hamlyn and her late husband Lord Hamlyn. The Trusts core ethos is to support the development of innovative projects, which aim to effect lasting change and improve quality of life. The Trust works in the fields of medicine; the arts and culture; education and welfare; healthy ageing; international humanitarian affairs; and heritage and conservation in India.
This exhibition is curated by Alessio Cotugno and David A. Lines (University of Warwick) and highlights the role played by Venice in the Renaissance interpretation and diffusion of Aristotle’s works, the most intensely studied philosopher of antiquity until 1700. Thirty manuscripts and printed editions show how Venice’s engagement with Aristotle expanded from Greek and Latin to Italian, which increasingly became a legitimate language for literary and philosophical studies in the sixteenth century. Greek and Latin manuscripts (some of them extremely old and belonging originally to the humanist, Greek émigré, and cardinal Bessarion, † 1472) and printed editions testify to Venice as a significant centre of learned scholarship on Aristotle and his commentators.
But its position as one of the great capitals of the European printing industry made Venice the chief promoter of a lively cultural movement to make Aristotle’s works available to a broader public, which came to include women, princes, participants in Academies, and educated amateurs interested in literature, philosophy, and science.
Exhibition opens on April 21st at noon and closes May 19th, 2016.
A total of 180 Greek, Roman, Arabic and Hebrew manuscripts will be shown in the Rome’s Accademia dei Lincei’s new exhibition, “I Libri che hanno fatto l’Europa. Manoscritti latini e romanzi da Carlo Magno all’invenzione della stampa”. Manuscripts come from the most prestigious Roman collections: Biblioteca Corsiniana, Angelica, Casanatense, Nazionale, Vallicelliana, and Apostolica Vaticana.
Opening : Thursday, March 31st. Closing on July 21st, 2016.