Divine Comedy Egerton 943

Divine Comedy Egerton 943 Facsimile Edition

Probably Padua (Italy) — 1320–1350

Dante's famous magnum opus in a golden masterpiece of the Italian Trecento: 253 innovative and beautiful miniatures from the hand of the gifted "Master of the Antiphonary of Padua"

  1. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265–1321) was formational for the modern Italian language

  2. 253 miniatures and other décor demonstrate influences from the Italian Trecento and the Bolognese school

  3. Although the patron is unknown, it is attributed to the Master of the Antiphonary of Padua

Divine Comedy Egerton 943

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Divine Comedy Egerton 943

One of the oldest and most beautiful specimens of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265–1321) was created in Padua in the early–14th century. The work was formational for the modern Italian language, and Dante stands as one of the most important authors of the entire Middle Ages. Although the patron of this particular manuscript remains anonymous, it is believed to originate from Padua from the workshop of the Master of the Antiphonary of Padua. The 253 miniatures and other décor in the manuscript demonstrate influences from the Italian Trecento and specifically from the Bolognese school. It displays innovative features such as early attempts at three-dimensionality, and stands out among the illuminated manuscripts of Dante’s magnum opus.

Divine Comedy Egerton 943

Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265–1321) is considered to be the father of the Italian language and his Divina Commedia is not only considered to be the preeminent work of Italian literature but also the most important poem of the Middle Ages. In it, he travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise as he is guided by the Roman poet Virgil (70–21 BC). During his allegorical journey, he comes into contact with many prominent historical figures. The work has since influenced countless of other authors and is one of the most referenced pieces of literature in the Western literary tradition.

An Early Dante Masterpiece

The early–14th century specimen from Padua that we have before us today is one of the oldest and most beautiful editions of Dante’s work, and in fact predates the application of the term “Divine” to the title, which first appeared in 1555. It features 253 miniatures in red frames in addition to historiated initials and diagrams of heaven, hell, and Earth. The lovely colors of the illustrations are further elevated through the use of shimmering gold and silver. This artistic program has been ascribed to the Master of the Antiphonary of Padua and is supposed to directly aid the reader in comprehending the text, part of a tradition that has come to be known as “Dante Illustrato”. No patron has ever been determined. Every page features either 16 tercets (three lined poems) or 12–13 tercets with a miniature. The influence of the Trecento and the Bolognese school in particular are evident in the decorative grounds and the tendency of the figures to exceed their frames. Figure are often facing away from the reader, giving the impression that the miniature is only a window into a larger scene. The miniatures possess a nascent three-dimensionality, adding to the narrative realism of the manuscript. All of this is housed in a 17th century binding of red leather with gold tooling.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Dante Alighieri - Göttliche Komödie - Egerton 943
La Divina Commedia - Il codice Egerton
Size / Format
376 pages / 39.0 × 26.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1320–1350
Script
Gothic Textura Rotunda
Illustrations
261 gold- and silver-adorned miniatures in red frames; 3 historiated initials; 2 diagrams depicting Hell; floral foliate initials throughout
Content
Text of the Divine Comedy with Latin commentaries and the verses added by Jacopo Alighieri
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Baron August von Koller

Available facsimile editions:
Divine Comedy Egerton 943 – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Ms. Egerton 943 – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Facsimile Edition
Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Rome, 2015
Limited Edition: 599 copies
Detail Picture

Divine Comedy Egerton 943

Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, and Francis

In the Fourth Sphere of Heaven, the Sun, which is the realm of the Wise, Dante and Beatrice encounter examples of souls who have illuminated the world intellectually. Here they encounter three of the most important figures of the medieval church: St. Dominic, the founder of the order to which the great theologian Thomas Aquinas belonged, and St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, who is humbly dressed in brown. Although the two orders were not always friendly on earth, in Paradise they praise one another in the spirit of love.

La Divina Commedia - Il codice Egerton
Single Page

Divine Comedy Egerton 943

Trajan and the Widow / The Proud Carrying Heavy Stones

Medieval Christian theologians regarded the Roman Emperor Trajan, who reigned from AD 98 to 117, to be a virtuous pagan and an example of justice, majesty, humility, and chivalry who, according to legend, once stopped his grand entourage in order to render justice to a poor widow, which is depicted here. Trajan is crowned and dressed in red while the widow stands before him dressed in black with her hand stretched out before her pleading for help.

The lower miniature shows an opposite example: those guilty of Pride, who are overburdened with heavy stones that cause them to be bent over at the waste. They are stripped of all their finery, are barefoot, and wear only simple tunics, while the well-dressed Dante and Virgil look on from the left. The red background is embellished with an elaborate diamond pattern featuring flowers and Greek crosses with trefoil end caps.

La Divina Commedia - Il codice Egerton
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Divina Commedia - Il codice Egerton

Limited Edition: 599 copies
Binding: Red leather binding with rich gold embossing
Commentary: 1 volume by Massimo Bray, Federica Toniolo, Chiara Ponchia, Marco Santagata and Anna Pegoretti
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.
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