Sanudo Virgil

Sanudo Virgil – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Lat. 7939A – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)

Ferrara (Italy) — 1458–1459

Virgil in the opulent garb of the Renaissance: the high art of the Quattrocento and its masters Guglielmo Giraldi and Giorgio d'Alemagna in naturalistic miniatures, colorful historiated initials and golden borders

  1. Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BC) is considered to be one of ancient Rome’s greatest poets

  2. His three most famous works are appended by poems Virgil supposedly wrote in his youth

  3. This gorgeous Virgil manuscript originated between 1458 and 1459 in Ferrara

Sanudo Virgil

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

The 1st century author Publius Virgilius Maro, better known as Virgil today, was arguably the most important and famous author of literature in the ancient world. His texts have outlasted the centuries and are counted today among the most influential poetry to have ever been written. His three primary works in particular, the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, are of immeasurable significance for world literature and the Appendix Vergiliana contains poems supposedly written by Virgil in his youth. This gorgeous manuscript was made in Ferrara by the Italian master illuminators Guglielmo Giraldi and Giorgio d'Alemagna between 1458 and 1459 and is illustrated by miniatures, historiated initials, and beautiful floral flames.

Sanudo Virgil

The three primary works of the great ancient poet Virgil – namely the Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid – are counted among the most important documents in the history of world literature. The masterful tales revolutionized Latin poetry and shortly after Virgil’s death were already repeatedly transcribed, published, commented on, and reworked. This fine specimen from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France originated from the workshop of Guglielmo Giraldi (ca. 1423 – after 1469) and Giorgio d'Alemagna (ca. 1410/20-1479) in Ferrara between 1458 and 1459 and is adorned with masterful miniatures, initials, and floral borders in the style of the Quattrocento. The work was originally commissioned by Leonardo Sanuto, a Venetian patrician residing in Ferrara at that time.

Classical Latin Bestsellers

The three great works of Virgil are known by the titles Bucolics – the title translates to ‘pastoral poem’ – combining ten eclogues, the Georgics – a didactic poem consisting of four books concerning agriculture and animal husbandry, and the Aeneid epic that is divided into twelve books. The poetic writings were already unified into a Corpus in antiquity. In late antiquity, it was continuously annotated, primarily for use in schools, and was furnished with a comprehensive Vita, primers, and other complementary texts from the most varied of origins. Simultaneously, extremely luxurious editions of the work came to be, in which Virgil’s text was commented on with illustrative pictures.

The Appendix Vergiliana

Juvenilia are works produced by an author during their youth, which, if published at all, usually appears as a retrospective publication after the author has become well known for later works. Virgil’s juvenilia are referred to as the Appendix Vergiliana and consist of a collection of poems that, in its present form, was assembled in Late Antiquity. Although considered to be Virgil’s works during antiquity, modern scholars have deduced that only a couple are actual works by Virgil while the rest are by other authors of the 1st century. Some of the poems may have been attempts by other authors to pass works off under Virgil's name as pseudepigrapha while others may have been mistakenly included in the collection at a later time. Nonetheless, they are fascinating works from the Golden Age of Latin Literature that continue to be studied and debated by scholars to this day.

Antiquity Meets the Renaissance

Thanks to the patronage of the wealthy and sophisticated House of Este, Ferrara grew into a center of manuscript production – humanistic works and transcriptions of rediscovered manuscripts from antiquity in particular. Aside from illustrating the events, the miniatures created by Guglielmo Giraldi and Giorgio d'Alemagna include scenes medieval farmers’ labors and daily life, people in contemporary clothing, but also depictions of soldiers wearing classically styled armor that had also come back into vogue during the 15th century. Some of these miniatures are part of elaborate historiated initials with letters made from dragons, lions, and fish. The figures have the soft, fairytale like quality of the International Gothic style but already possess the naturalism of Renaissance art. A delicate color palette dominated by pinks, blues, greens, and plenty of gold leaf rounds out the presentation of this extraordinarily fine manuscripts.


Alternative Titles
Virgilio. Eneide, Bucoliche, Georgiche, Appendix Vergiliana
Vergilius Publius Maro: Aeneid, Bucolicon, Georgicon, Appendix
Virgilio Sanudo
Vergil des Lenardo Sanudo
Size / Format
231 pages / 26.0 × 16.9 cm
Numerous miniatures and historiated initals
Virgil's Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis, Appendix Vergiliana
Probably Leonardo Sanuto
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Leonardo Sanuto
Marino detto Il Giovane (1466–1536)
Paul Pétau

Available facsimile editions:
Sanudo Virgil – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Lat. 7939A – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Rome, 2017
Limited Edition: 499 copies
Detail Picture

Sanudo Virgil

The Essential Gestures of the Cook

This bas-de-page miniature shows two people cooking inside of a thatched roof hut with an opening to allow smoke from the open fire to escape. An African woman on the left with ruddy cheeks is seated in a chair wearing a blue dress with a scarf on her head while she stirs a pot suspended from a beam with a large wooden spoon. Straddling a bench on the right, a European man dressed in a pink tunic and tights has his sleeves rolled up as he is mashing something in a bowl.

Sanudo Virgil – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Lat. 7939A – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Single Page

Sanudo Virgil

Beginning of the Aeneid

“Of arms and the man I sing…” so begins one of the greatest works from the Golden Age of Latin. The opening of the narrative finds the Trojan fleet in the eastern Mediterranean sailing for Italy and the bas-de-page miniature of this lavish page shows them being shipwrecked off the coast of North Africa by Aeolus, King of the Winds, who acts on behalf of the wrathful goddess Juno.

The lovely historiated miniature framed with gold leaf and a pink dragon shows Aeneas in a golden suit of armor reassuring his captains after they have taken shelter on the African coast. Aside from a coat of arms being held up by two muscular nude male angels, the rest of the golden frame consists of colorful flowering tendrils, a songbird, and butterflies.

Sanudo Virgil – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Lat. 7939A – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Virgilio. Bucoliche, Georgiche, Eneide, Appendix Vergiliana

Limited Edition: 499 copies
Binding: Dark brown leather binding with gold tooling
Commentary: 1 volume by Giuliano Canfora, Gennaro Ferrante, Andrea Mazzucchi, and Massimo Bray
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: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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