Commissioned by the King of Naples: the only consistently rich and magnificently illuminated codex of Dante's *Divine Comedy*

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Probably Siena - Tuscany (Italy) — 1444-1450

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Probably Siena - Tuscany (Italy) — 1444-1450

  1. The masterpiece of Dante Alighieri (circa 1265-1321), one of the greatest poets of all time

  2. Lorenzo di Pietro and Giovanni di Paolo designed the costly work at the behest of King Alfonso of Naples (1396-1458)

  3. Nearly all of the 100 masterful, haunting miniatures are encompassed in an opulent gold frame

La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona

Divine Comedy by Alfonso of Aragon

Departing on a Sea Voyage

This is a spectacular historiated initial showing a sailing ship within the loop of the “P” and its burnished gold background reminds us that this journey does not take place in the world of the living. Dante refers to ships throughout his famous magnum opus and often compares his spiritual journey to a sea voyage. Furthermore, there are two ships in the story: a ferry manned by Charon taking the damned across the river Acheron and a shipload of Christian souls being escorted by an angel.

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Alternative Titles:
  • La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona
  • Die Göttliche Komödie des Alfons von Aragon
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon was manufactured in Italy between 1442 and 1450 and is the only codex in which all three cantos of the famous poem by Dante Alighieri are downright lavishly illustrated. Two famous illuminators, Lorenzo di Pietro and Giovanni di Paolo, designed the costly work at the behest of King Alfonso, called the Great, of Naples. The splendid codex is illustrated with over 100 impressive miniatures in golden frames, as well as numerous elaborate initials.

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

In the mid-15th century, Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples commissioned an illustrated codex that is counted today among the most beautiful and elaborate manuscripts of the Italian Renaissance. The outstanding codex is a richly decorated edition of the famous Divine Comedy by arguably the greatest Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. The pages of the work are adorned with more than 100 splendid miniatures and countless unusually designed initials. This manuscript is the only codex worldwide, in which all three cantos of the famous poem are downright lavishly illustrated.

A Masterful Collaboration

Two different artists are responsible for the exceptional illustration of the precious manuscript. Both were famous and trendsetting masters of the Italy’s Sienese school. Lorenzo di Pietro the Elder transformed Dante’s thrilling descriptions of Inferno and Hell in breathtaking, terrifying visual scenes. The artist made all the historiated initials likewise. The second artist participating was Giovanni di Paolo, who masterfully illustrated the spiritual descriptions of Paradise. His dreamy image scenes transplants their beholder into the conceptual world of the great poet Dante in a fabulous, surreal way. Both of the picture cycles stand in stark contrast to one another. Di Pietro’s dramatic terrifying images confront di Paolo’s beguiling, Tuscan-inspired landscapes.

Royal Composition

Alfonso the Great was, like all great Renaissance princes, an enthusiastic lover of arts and a book collector. No conceivable luxury was too expensive for his personal edition of the Divine Comedy. Nearly each of the haunting miniatures of the work is encompassed in an opulent gold frame. The costly, superimposed gold elements provide the special luminousness of the pictures, in particular the depiction of the heavens, in the scenes. The text of the manuscript was composed in an elegant, razor-sharp script ordered by gorgeous initials. With its enchanting illustrations and clearly legible script, the precious codex is also a true literary delight for modern readers as well.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona
Die Göttliche Komödie des Alfons von Aragon
Size / Format
396 pages / 36.5 x 25.8 cm
Date
1444-1450
Language
Illustrations
Over 100 splendid miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Dante and Virgil

In a dark wood, Dante meets Virgil, his guide through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The beginning of this epic tale is depicted in the historiated “N” initial at hand, which is rendered in sumptuous gold leaf with tendrils of blue, green, and red. They are surrounded by four half-length figures in medallions representing Justice, Power, Peace and Temperance.

Dante is dressed in royal blue, Virgil in a radiant shade of magenta, both of whom are contrasted wonderfully by the deep green of the woods behind them. The coat of arms of this manuscript’s patron, King Alfonso V of Aragon, Naples, and Sicily, is depicted at the bottom of the page in a gold leaf barbed quatrefoil embossed with a diamond pattern.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon“

La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon – Ms. Yates Thompson 36 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2006
Limited Edition
750
Binding
Silk velvet over wood boards and featuring decorations, gilded silver and enamel work.
Commentary
1 volume (340 pages) by Luca Azzetta, Milvia Bollati, Peter Kidd, Marco Petoletti and GennaroToscano
Language: Italian
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