Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana

Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana Facsimile Edition

Padua (Italy) — 1259

Miniatures like the mosaics from St. Mark's Basilica in Venice: 16 full-page masterpieces of 13th century Italian art with many elements from Byzantine art

  1. The manuscript’s colophon states it was created in Giovanni da Gaibana’s Paduan workshop in 1259

  2. Its stylized depiction of figures with small, fine noses borrows from the early Palaiologan style

  3. The so-called “Gaibanesque style” spread and influenced artists in other parts of Europe, Austria in particular

Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana

ms. E 2 Biblioteca Capitolare di Padova (Padua, Italy)
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana

Adorned by 16 magnificent full-page miniatures, the Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana is one of the finest examples of 13th century Italian illumination, which was still heavily influenced by Byzantine art. This style was further developed and refined by Gaibana and his workshop to create the so-called “Gaibanesque style”, which spread and influenced artists in other parts of Europe, Austria in particular. Stylistically, the masterful miniatures of the manuscript are most similar to the mosaics of prophets and Christ Emmanuel in the nave of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. The manuscript is also useful to art historians because its origins are well documented: it was created in Padua in 1259 and Gaibana identifies himself as the scribe in the colophon.

Epistolary of Giovanni da Gaibana

This splendid specimen of the Italo-Byzantine tradition of Gothic illumination in Italy represents one of the few manuscripts for which we have a precise information about its origins. It originated from Padua, which was emerging as a leading center of manuscript production, in 1259 and has a colophon signed by Giovanni da Gaibana on ff. 98v–99r, a clerical assistant at Padua Cathedral. Gaibana copied the texts for this epistolary from the Old and New Testaments and possibly participated in the illumination of the work. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of the lasting Byzantine tradition in Italian art.

The Gaibanesque style

Byzantine art was enormously influential in Italy, especially in the Veneto and Southern Italy, which had long been within Constantinople’s circle of influence. Up until the end of the 13th century, Italian artists attempted to imitate the icon painting of the Byzantines, who maintained a remarkably refined artistic tradition reaching back to Late Antiquity. The Italo-Byzantine style was not only adopted but further developed by the workshop of Giovanni da Gaibana in what became known as the Gaibanesque style. It is distinguished by the stylized depiction of figures with small, fine noses in the early Palaiologan style, flowering trees, and three-dimensional initials combining strapwork with flowers and dragons.

Mosaic-like Miniatures

The 16 full-page miniatures that adorn this epistolary are distinctly influenced by Byzantine painting, especially with respect to the figures, their garment fall of folds and facial expressions as well as the rich opaque color palette and employment of burnished gold backgrounds. Their figures are most similar to the mosaics of prophets and Christ Emmanuel in the nave of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, which is not far from Padua, where the manuscript was created. The artists who created this and other illuminated manuscripts, panel paintings, wall paintings, and rock-crystal enamels until about 1295 are sometimes grouped together by art historians as the Paduan school. However, most the works of art they created originated north of the Alps, many in Salzburg, as these highly skilled and sought-after artists found employment outside of Italy and influenced other artists, particularly in Austria.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Epistolar von Giovanni da Gaibana
L'epistolario miniato di Giovanni da Gaibana
Origin
Italy
Date
1259
Language
Illustrations
16 full-page miniatures in the Italo-Byzantine tradition of Gothic illumination
Artist / School
Facsimile Editions

#1 L'epistolario miniato di Giovanni da Gaibana

Commentary: 1 volume by Claudio Bellinati and Sergio Bettini
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: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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