Medici Aesop

Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library  (New York, USA) / Private Collection

Florence (Italy) β€” Ca. 1480

Aesop's ancient fables in the opulent dress of the Italian Renaissance: the unprecedented Greek textbook with 135 gold-decorated miniatures for the eldest son of Lorenzo de' Medici

  1. Lorenzo I de Medici (1449–92), il Magnifico, commissioned the most beautiful Aesop manuscript of all time

  2. Originally intended as a Greek textbook for his oldest son Piero (1472–1503)

  3. 135 gilded half-page miniatures were created by Mariano del Buona and the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon

Medici Aesop

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Medici Aesop

This wonderful collection of fables from the the Greek writer Aesop is illustrated with the most beautiful illustrations in this manuscript. Originally intended as a Greek textbook for Piero de Medici in Florence ca. 1480, this manuscript offers a deep look into the tremendous art of the Italian Renaissance. The famous fables from antiquity with animal and human protagonists impress with their playful lessons in moralistic life as much today as they did in the 16th century. This edition of the Medici manuscript is even today the most beautifully illustrated and furnished collection of Aesop’s Fables.

Medici Aesop

This wonderful collection of fables from the the Greek writer Aesop is illustrated with the most beautiful illustrations in this manuscript. Originally intended as a Greek textbook for Piero de Medici in Florence ca. 1480, this manuscript offers a deep look into the tremendous art of the Italian Renaissance. The famous fables from antiquity with animal and human protagonists impress with their playful lessons in moralistic life as much today as they did in the 16th century. This edition of the Medici manuscript is even today the most beautifully illustrated and furnished collection of Aesop’s Fables.

A Schoolbook for the Offspring of de Medici

Lorenzo I de Medici, known as il Magnifico, the Magnificent, undoubtedly commissioned the Aesop-Edition for his son Piero. For the time around 1500, this wasn’t anything special, but the return of the classic Greek texts in the Renaissance lead to a new discovery of the Greek writer, Aesop (620–560 BC). It was not only the moralistic aspect of the fables that was important, but the original language of the texts, Greek, was also in high demand as a relic of the past. Aesop’s Fables were already widely available in a Latin translation in Late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, but were later re-translated into the original Greek ca. 1300. Thus, Aesop received new meaning as an entertaining and educational lecturer, his work instructed many young men in Greek. One can well imagine that Piero de Medici also used this manuscript with that goal in mind. The manuscript’s connection to the influential Florentine Medici family is demonstrated not only by inventory lists that prove Piero de Medici’s ownership of the book, but also due to a direct piece of evidence that lies in one of the miniatures; a small Medici Coat of Arms is recognizable.

Illustrations of Animals from the greatest Artists

Throughout the 150 pages, a variety of Aesop’s Fables are presented and illustrated with 135 half-page miniatures, which are enriched with gold. An unknown writer copied the text in around 1480 in Milan from a printed edition of Bonus Accursius. Mariano del Buono (1433–1504) and the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon can be identified as the artists adoring the book, who were both masters of manuscript art in the 16th century. They designed the pages with gorgeous initials and floral ornaments alongside a left-side border around the text. The wonderful and impressive miniatures are like panel paintings in narrow borders conveniently integrated in text. A bright world of animals populate the miniatures: donkeys, horses, dogs, rabbits, all manner of birds, wild boar, foxes and camels. Altogether, the wondrous spiritedness and realism of the Renaissance is depicted. Grandiose, airy landscapes highlight the representations. The artistic and lovingly designed miniatures, by the same token, embrace the adjoining text’s juxtaposition with animals, people, and God, as the individual stories go hand-and-hand with one another. The coloring and the wonderfully crafted depictions of animals are not only entertaining for adults, but also certainly for children. They underline the anecdotes that Piero de Medici certainly learned as a kid from this present manuscript, with represents one of the most beautiful illustrated editions of Aesop’s Fables from the Renaissance.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Esopo Medici
Medici-Aesop
Les Fables d'Γ‰sope
Le Fiabe dell’Esopo Mediceo
Size / Format
150 pages / 20.0 Γ— 12.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Ca. 1480
Language
Illustrations
135 half-page miniatures adorned with gold
Patron
Lorenzo I. de’ Medici (1449–1492)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Lorenzo’s son, Piero (1471–1503)

Available facsimile editions:
Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library  (New York, USA) / Private Collection
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Medici Aesop

Author Portrait

In a bas-de-page miniature like this that appears at the beginning of a manuscript, one would normally find a dedication miniature or some other portrait of the patron. However, this in no way resembles the patron of this manuscript, Lorenzo de’ Medici, whose likeness is well known, nor does it resemble his son Piero, for whom the manuscript was made. Thus, framed in a brilliant field of red and gold, we must conclude that this is the artist’s conception of Aesop himself.

Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library  (New York, USA) / Private Collection
Single Page

Medici Aesop

The Eagle and the Fox

One of Aesop’s Fables is intended to serve as a warning that the powerful should fear revenge from the humble people that they harm, or alternatively, of the danger of betrayal. In the story, an eagle and a fox are friends and decide to live together, seen here by the proximity of the eagle’s tree to the fox’s den. However, the eagle betrays the fox by stealing one of its cubs to feed to its young.

The fox prays for vengeance, which is brought about when the eagle brings back meat from a sacrificial altar with a glowing coal still attached. This burns the eagle chicks, who tumble from the nest to the bottom of the tree, where they are eaten by the fox. A surprisingly serene landscape serves as the background for this tale of treachery and revenge.

Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library  (New York, USA) / Private Collection
Facsimile Editions

#1 Esopo Medici

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011
Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library  (New York, USA) / Private Collection
Medici Aesop – Patrimonio Ediciones – Spencer 50 – The New York Public Library (New York, USA) / Private Collection Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2011
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Brown leather with blind embossings
Commentary: 1 volume (150 pages) by Ada Labriola
Languages: Spanish, Italian, English, German
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: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
You might also be interested in:
Aesopus - Vita et Fabulae – Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Museum Otto SchΓ€fer (Schweinfurt, Germany)
Aesopus - Vita et Fabulae
Ulm (Germany) – 1476

One of the earliest prints in the history of books: the famous fables of the Greek poet Aesop in German and Latin, illustrated with stylish, colored woodcuts

Experience More
Martin Luther: Letters and Aesop's Fables – Belser Verlag – Cod. Ott. lat. 3029 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Martin Luther: Letters and Aesop's Fables
Wittenberg (Germany) – 1516–1532

The connection of Greek fables with the parables of Jesus: an inside look into unknown facets with sayings, warnings, and admonitions of the great reformer

Experience More
Oxford Bestiary – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Ms. Ashmole 1511 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Oxford Bestiary
Possibly Peterborough or Lincoln (United Kingdom) – Ca. 1210

A moral-religious perspective on nature and one of the most beautiful representatives of this genre: the famous Oxford Bestiary with its more than 130 golden pictures of wild animals and fantastic mythical creatures

Experience More
Boner: The Gemstone – MΓΌller & Schindler – 16. I Eth. 2Β° – Herzog August Bibliothek (WolfenbΓΌttel, Germany)
Boner: The Gemstone
Bamberg (Germany) – 1461

Boner's famous collection of fables: the first book in German printed with movable type and the first printed work illustrated with woodcuts

Experience More
Aesop's Fables – AyN Ediciones – Ms. 1213 – Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna (Bologna, Italy)
Aesop's Fables
Italy – 1489

Commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the first Duke of Milan: a beautiful Aesop manuscript with extraordinary depictions of animals

Experience More
Collection of Tales, Fables, and Proverbs – Droz – FranΓ§ais 19152 – BibliothΓ¨que nationale de France (Paris, France)
Collection of Tales, Fables, and Proverbs
France – 13th century

61 tales, fables, fabliaux, proverbs, romances, and Partenopeus de Blois including the popular Floire et Blanchefleur: no other copy exists for about twenty of the works, making this precious book treasure a true unicum

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher