Interesting insight into the work of the miniaturists of the 13th century: a richly illustrated musical manuscript with more than 500 miniatures

Florence Cantigas de Santa María

Spain — 13th century

Florence Cantigas de Santa María

Florence Cantigas de Santa María

Spain — 13th century

  1. This musical manuscript offers insights into book production and adornment in the 13th century

  2. The manuscript has 500+ miniatures depicting a vast array of typical human figures in 13th century Spain

  3. While most of the miniatures are complete, the incomplete imagery offers a glimpse into manuscript production

Florence Cantigas de Santa María

Alternative Titles:
  • Cantigas de Santa María de Alfonso X el Sabio
  • Songs of Santa María by Alfonso X the Wise
  • CSM
Florence Cantigas de Santa María – Banco Rari 20 (formerly II,I,213) – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
Florence Cantigas de Santa María – Banco Rari 20 (formerly II,I,213) – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

One of the largest surviving collections of medieval monophonic music: the Cantigas de Santa María or “Canticles of Holy Mary” is a collection of 420 poems dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The manuscript stored today in Florence is one of only four that were created during the lifetime of Alfonso X of Castile (1221–1284) who was called “the Wise” for his patronage of and personal interest in art and science. In fact, it is believed that the King authored many of the poems, which were written in Galician-Portuguese. Although completed artistically with 500 illustrations, some are incomplete and the manuscript lacks musical notation, although the staves have already been drawn. It is nonetheless a splendid example of late–13th century work of Spanish Gothic illumination and an early work of vernacular poetry.

Florence Cantigas de Santa María

Alfonso X of Castile (1221–1284) earned the epithet “the Wise” for fostering one of the most learned and cosmopolitan courts in medieval Europe as well as for being an intellectual himself. Alfonso was interested in science, astronomy and astrology in particular, and was also a prolific author of Galician poetry. The Cantigas de Santa María or “Canticles of Holy Mary” are one of numerous works commissioned by Alfonso and many may have been written by him. Consisting of 420 poems dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it is one of the largest surviving collections of medieval monophonic music. The codex stored in Florence’s Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale under shelf mark MS b.r. 20 is one of only four surviving manuscripts containing the work and is richly illuminated with 500 narrative vignettes, which depict a vast array of human typology in Spain during the 13th century.

An Incomplete Masterpiece

This manuscript was intended to be a continuation of El Escorial Ms T.j.1 and is a fascinating “work in progress”: although room has been carefully set aside for the notation and all staff lines are already drawn, none of the musical notation was copied. While most of the miniatures are complete, there are many intriguing examples of incomplete faces and details that provide a wonderful glimpse into manuscript production. It is written in Galician-Portuguese, which was en vogue at the Castilian court at the time, and Alfonso had spent much of his youth in Galicia. The manuscript was likely created in the early 1280’s and may have been left unfinished because the King died in 1284 and left his kingdom in a state of civil war, thus leaving the manuscript without a patron.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Cantigas de Santa María de Alfonso X el Sabio
Songs of Santa María by Alfonso X the Wise
CSM
Size / Format
264 pages / 45.0 x 32.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
13th century
Style
Gothic
Genre
Illustrations
More than 500 illustrations, some of them unfinished
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Florence Cantigas de Santa María“

Cantigas de Santa María
Florence Cantigas de Santa María – Banco Rari 20 (formerly II,I,213) – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
Florence Cantigas de Santa María – Banco Rari 20 (formerly II,I,213) – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
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Cantigas de Santa María

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Edilan – Madrid, 1991
Limited Edition
2000 copies
Binding
Leather
Commentary
1 volume (206 pages) by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez and Agustín Santiago Luque
Language: Spanish
More Information
This MS was intended as a continuation of El Escorial Ms T.j.1, adding music and more than 500 miniatures which depict a vast array of human typology in Spain during the 13th c. It is a fascinating “work in progress”: although room carefully set aside for the the music and all staff lines drawn, none of the musical work were copied. While most of the miniatures are complete, there are many intriguing examples of incomplete faces and detail, providing a wonderful glimpse into manuscript production.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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