La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri – Vallecchi –

Bergamo (Italy) β€” 1921

Calligraphy and watercolors commemorating one of the most famous literary figures of the Middle Ages: a rare juvenile work by Dante Alighieri in an extraordinarily artfully illuminated 20th century manuscript

  1. A rare 20th century work presents the most sublime poetic composition by Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)

  2. It features watercolors by Vittorio Grassi, calligraphy Enrico Brignoli, and illumination by Nestore Leoni

  3. The codex was created in 1921 to commemorate the sixth centenary of Dante Alighieri's death

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

A rare work of the 20th century presents the most sublime poetic composition by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321): his youthful work La Vita Nuova. In it he sings for the first time of his all-consuming love for Beatrice, whom he adored for the rest of his life. Like a minstrel, he puts his intense feelings of love into the form of sonnets and canzonas. In 1921, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of Dante's death, this volume was created and illustrated with the works of three graphic and illustrative geniuses: Vittorio Grassi created 40 extraordinary watercolors, Enrico Brignoli calligraphed the entire text by hand, and Nestor Leoni decorated each page separately. A rare work that meets the highest standards of quality and aesthetics.

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

If the Divine Comedy represents the most complicated voluminous and famous of Dante’s works, La Vita Nuova is his most sublime poetic composition. The story of his love for Beatrice starting from their first encounter when she was only nine years old is described by Dante in pure Stilnovo and offers a poetic autobiography documenting young Dante’s adhesion to the ideals and spiritual evolution of the Stilnovo. In the past, La Vita Nuova has inspired many writers and artists, even if only one illustrated, full-color edition has been produced in the six centuries since its creation. In 1921, year of the sixth-centennial of Dante Alighieri’s death, three artists worked together to create what we can consider today to be a real and perhaps unique illuminated manuscript of the 20th century – La Vita Nuova – illustrated with forty original watercolors by Vittorio Grassi, entirely hand written by the calligrapher Enrico Brignoli, and decorated on every page by Nestore Leoni’s decorations.

The New Life

First published in 1294, the work belongs to the medieval genre of courtly love and combines prose with verse making it a so-called prosimetrum and consists of a collection of works written ca. 1283–93. Divided into 42 chapters, the work contains 25 sonnets, a ballata, and four canzoni (one incomplete). Together, they form a frame story recounting Dante’s love for Beatrice from the moment he first saw her to his mourning of her death. Each composition is accompanied by a two-part commentary that give further insight into the mind of the heartbroken author. The semi-autobiographical work is an example of the movement known as Dolce Stil Novo or the β€œsweet new style”, which is focused on Divine Love and characterized by an adoration for the human form focused on female beauty and often describes a woman as an β€œangel” or a β€œbridge to God”. The Dolce Stil Novo is distinguished for being Italy’s first true literary tradition and was important for the development and spread of Tuscan vernacular as the national language of Italy.


Alternative Titles
La Vita Nuova
Size / Format
136 pages / 41.0 Γ— 31.0 cm
40 watercolors and numerous ornamental borders and initials
25 sonnets, 1 ballata, and 4 canzoni by Dante Alighieri
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri – Vallecchi –
Vallecchi – Florence, 2003
Limited Edition: 2999 copies
Detail Picture

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

The divine love

As if framed by a curtain, the view is granted to the sleeping Dante wrapped in red. Behind him, on the edge of the bed, sits a female figure wrapped in white robes. Like the warm glow of a candle, the woman is enveloped in a luminous glow. In his semi-autobiographical composition, Dante describes divine love, which takes human form through a worship of feminine beauty. Accordingly, love is illuminated in the miniatures as an angelic female figure.

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri – Vallecchi –
Single Page

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri

Incipit vita nova

As "Incipit vita nova" - the beginning of a new life - Dante describes the first encounter with his great love Beatrice. Dante's poetic expressions of love were recorded in the finest handwriting by the calligrapher Enrico Brignoli and adorned on each page with decorations and initials by Nestore Leoni. The term "new" fulfills a multiple meaning in the composition. In addition to the pure stylistic novo in which Dante composed the work, the poem refers to youthful love and its renewing, vitalizing power.

This dawn of new life is magnificently illuminated by the artist Vittorio Grassi in this only illustrated and colored edition of the work. Through the glazed application of color and the softly luminous coloring, Grassi succeeds in depicting the mystical-religious atmosphere. As if enveloped in a bright glow, the watercolors seem to accompany the reader into Dante's dream world.

La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri – Vallecchi –
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Vita Nuova

Vallecchi – Florence, 2003

Publisher: Vallecchi – Florence, 2003
Limited Edition: 2999 copies
Binding: Blue silk with silver trim in a silk covered box
Commentary: 1 volume by Domenico De Robertis
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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