Dante Alighieri - Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

Dante Alighieri - Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

Possibly Umbria — Second half of the 14th century

Over 100 drolleries in human and animal form and with texts by Bosone da Gubbio: a spectacular and mysterious Dante manuscript from 14th century Umbria

  1. The magnum opus by Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265–1321) is a cornerstone of Italian illumination

  2. It is combined here with a text by Jacopo Alighieri (1289–1348) and Bosone da Gubbio

  3. Although the origins and history of the manuscript are unclear, its artistic refinement is unmistakable

Dante Alighieri - Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Dante Alighieri - Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri from the 14th century is a primary work of Italian, if not European literature. So it is no wonder that this work has also survived in a number of medieval manuscripts. A gorgeously illuminated copy of the Divine Comedy, Padua’s Codex 9, originated in the second half of the 14th century and contains sections of text by Jacopo Alighieri (1289–1348) and Bosone da Gubbio. Furthermore, it distinguishes itself artistically inter alia through its extremely rich furnishings with over 100 drolleries featuring human and animal forms.

The Divine Comedy by San Bernardo

The manuscript known as Codex 9 in Padua’s Seminario Maggiore Vescovile is a splendidly illuminated manuscript of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265 – 1321). The work was written and illuminated in the second half of the 14th century and contains a variety of fascinating miniatures. Among them are three outstandingly furnished title pages, 100+ drolleries, and four wonderfully-illustrated historiated initials in animal form.

The Primary Work of Italian Literature

Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is undoubtedly the magnum opus of his creative talent. A gorgeously illuminated copy of the Divine Comedy originated in Italy in the second half of the 14th century containing sections of text by Jacopo Alighieri (1289–1348) and Bosone da Gubbio.

Rich Décor with Human and Animal Drolleries

Codex 9 artistically distinguishes itself through extremely rich décor with over 100 drolleries in human and animal form, among others. What’s more, the work contains three frontispieces introducing the three cantos. Each of these splendid pages is richly decorated and furnished with historiated initials on gold backgrounds, which impressively represent the treatment of the text. The initials are flanked by rich tendril works, in which a variety of human and animal drolleries frolic.

A Mysterious and Dubious Provenance

Where exactly the work originated and who its patron was remain unclear to this day. There are, however, clues indicating its patron was a certain Michellino della Stacciola, who was forced to cede the Marche region to Galeazzo Malatesta in 1372 as the result of a feud. Should this assumption be confirmed, then it can be inferred that the Codex 9 originated in the region of Umbria. Much remains unclear about the further history of the manuscript. A notice in the manuscript made it possible to figure out that the work was gifted to Alfonso Alvarotti by Andrea Citadella in 1717 before it was purchased by the librarian Francesco Canal in 1720 and became a part of the collections the Biblioteca del Seminario. The modern binding of the codex is no longer the original from the 14th century, but rather a 19th century binding.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Divine Comedy Cod. 9 in the Seminario of Padua
Göttliche Komödie di San Bernardo
Size / Format
334 pages / 37.6 × 25.6 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Second half of the 14th century
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textualis Rotunda
Illustrations
1 zoomorphic initial, 4 historiated initials, 3 miniatures and over 100 drolleries
Content
Dante's Divine Comedy accompanied by short texts by Jacopo Alighieri and Bosone da Gubbio
Previous Owners
Alfonso Alvarotti
Andrea Cittadella

Available facsimile editions:
Divina Commedia di San Bernardo – Cod. 9 – Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (Padua, Italy)
Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2017
Limited Edition: 300 copies
Detail Picture

Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

“L” Initial

The eye is immediately drawn to the glimmering gold leaf of this elaborate initial, out of which elegant tendrils are growing. Deep blue and light pink contrast beautifully with the gold. Two drolleries (animal-human hybrids) can be seen perched among the leaves, one of which is red and blue with the head of a man and the body of a rooster. The other is a dragon with the face of a bearded man and is drawn in grisaille, a technique that minimizes color in favor of masterful shading.

Divina Commedia di San Bernardo
Single Page

Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

Frontispiece: Inferno

Dante’s magnum opus begins on Maundy Thursday with the author/protagonist lost in a dark wood, where he is attacked by three beasts: a lion, a leopard, and a she-wolf. The forest represents sin and each of the three beasts represents a different kind of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious. Hell as it is presented later in the work is divided according to these classifications.

Unable to flee the three beasts in the large historiated initial, Dante is finally rescued by Virgil in the medallion miniature at the bottom. The two set off on their adventure in the medallion on the right margin. This magnificent frontispiece, one of three, is adorned with gold leaf and richly colored tendrils populated by birds and drolleries.

Divina Commedia di San Bernardo
Facsimile Editions

#1 Divina Commedia di San Bernardo

Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2017
Divina Commedia di San Bernardo – Cod. 9 – Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (Padua, Italy)
Divina Commedia di San Bernardo – Cod. 9 – Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (Padua, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Imago – Castel Guelfo, 2017
Limited Edition: 300 copies
Commentary: 1 volume by Chiara Ponchia and Danile Guernelli
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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