Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Virgil of Bartolomeo Sanvito

Kings MS 24 is titled, Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronici canones (translated by Jerome). The author of the manuscript was Pseudo-Ovid Virgil. According to http://www.wga.hu/html_m/s/sanvito/aeneid.html, MS 24 was written and most likely illustrated by Bartolomeo Sanvito in central Italy near Rome between 1485 and 1487. The manuscript was originally made for Lodovico Agnelli, apostolic protonotary and bishop of Cosenza (reigned 1497-1499). MS 24 provides historians with a great deal of information about late fifteenth-century Italy. For example, MS 24 possess quite a few illuminations that offer historians evidence of the fifteenth-century’s demand for expensive and extravagant illuminations. In addition to illuminations, the script of the manuscript provides evidence of the popularized script of time period, as well as the use for the  manuscript.
            One interesting aspect of the manuscript is that it was written in Latin, which means it was a intended for a specific audience, most likely wealthy, and contains religious affiliation. For instance, on f. 119v the nativity is displayed with the title: "Ihesus Christus filius dei in Betleem iudae nascitur". Latin could also represent that the manuscript is mostly likely a copy of a classic work. For example, on f. 23v a Trojan horse and Aeneas carrying his father Anchises into exile are depicted.
        By the late fourteen hundreds books were mainly sought after by collectors. These collectors were unlike any before them. They desired unique and handmade manuscripts. During the late fourteenth-century was an “expansion of book production and the choice of texts to be copied was the consequence of a new manner of patronage,” said by J. J. G. Alexander. As I mentioned above, MS 24 was originally intended for Lodovico Agnelli, who collected various manuscripts. Historians are able to link MS 24 to the late 1400’s simply by acknowledging that the manuscript is written in Latin, contains personalized religious items, and references classical texts.
         At this point in history there was a demand in Renaissance Italy for classical texts. Alexander says, “The interest in all aspects of Greek and Roman antiquity, which, although it had started much earlier, above all with Petrarch (1307-74), became so widespread and so vital a factor in fifteenth-century Italy, resulted in a renewed demand for classical texts, both those already known and others only just discovered by the humanists.” MS 24 represents a time period in history, like many others before and after it, that value(d) classical texts.
         Alexander mentions that “Italian Renaissance illumination is inevitably overshadowed by the great works of contemporary Italian monumental painting.” I think this statement corresponds well with the time period that MS 24 represents. For instance, the illustrations are rather unique but are often overlooked due to the tremendous amount of artwork that comes out of late fourteen and early fifteen hundreds. One of my favorite aspects of MS 24 are the beautiful illuminations that represent the incredible new age illustrations of the fourteenth-century. MS 24 contains a total of 17 miniatures with large historiated and/or decorated initials and full boarders.
           My two favorite illuminations in MS 24 are presented on f. 56r and f.101v. The former is a scene depicting Aeneas at Cathage. The illumination illustrates “Book I of Virgil’s Aeneid, of Dido welcoming Aeneas in Cathrage, with the good omen of the flying swans, and ruined Troy in the background,” retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=2855. I enjoy the colors that seem to jump off of the parchment, specifially the blues and red/orange. In my opinion, the artwork demonstrates quite a bit of talent on the behalf of the Bartolomeo Sanvito.
           I also very much enjoy the illumination on f. 101v. The illustrations represents “several episodes from book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid: on the right, the hunt during which Dido and Aeneas meet; on the left, Dido and Aeneas ride into a cave together, and in the middle of the image, Dido is on her funeral pyre, committing suicide after the departure of Aeneas,” http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=819.
My favorite part about this illumination is the way in which the images are depicted. Sanvito combines three different episodes into one image. Unless the person reading the manuscript knows the episodes well, they might be confused by this folio. The folio demonstrates the manuscript as a personalized piece of work. The buyer of MS 24 obviously knew the episodes well enough to be able to understand f. 101v. I specifically like the dimensions the artist portrays. The images seem to fit on the parchment somewhat awkwardly, i.e. Aeneus and Dido seem to be too big to enter the cave on the right. However, this could just be my interpretation of the image and others may perceive f. 101v differently.
        In my opinion, what makes MS 24 so unique are the various decorated initials. They are all decorated so differently and with incredible detail. They demonstrate the amount of time and effort that was put into the production of the manuscript. Here are a few examples of the decorated initials that can be found on f. 227v and f. 210v.:
Sanvito’s script of choice for the manuscript was Humanistic Cursive. According to Michelle Brown, “The Humanistic System of Scripts, which may be said to have begun, in Florence, just before 1400, was the result of a conscious reformation of script and book design.” The Humanistic System of Scripts encompasses Semigothic Cursive (Littera Semigothica Cursiva), Humanistic Book Script (Littera Humanistica Textualis, Littera Antiqua, Lettera Antica), Humanistic Cursive Book Script (Littera Humanistica Cursiva Libraria), and Humanistic Cursive (Littera Humanistica Cursiva, Cancellaresca, Cancellaresca all’antica). The Humanistic Cursive script is thought to have originated from Gothic chancery hands, who may have worked in both chancery and book spheres. By MS 24 representing this script, historians are able to assess the scribes profession, among other things, such as the purpose of the manuscripts production. For example, Humanistic Cursive was used as a clear, legible, and display worthy script.
         MS 24 offers historians knowledge about the early renaissance period in central Italy, as well as possess unique artwork that should not be overlooked.

1 comment:

  1. Just going back to what we were talking about in class, I still find it kind of hilarious that the "rediscovery" of "classical" books was as misnomer-y as misnomers get. I know that Professor Benes mentioned it in class, but we are still paying the price for this mistake. Our font of choice for most papers is "Times New Roman." NEW being the operative word of this descendant of Humanist minuscule and you can definitely see the similarities between Humanist cursive modern Times New Roman in italics.