Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017
Francesco Petrarch, Sonetti, as well as further verses by Burchiello and...
Sold for £20000
Francesco Petrarch, Sonetti, as well as further verses by Burchiello and other poets, quotations from Horace, Juvenal, Virgil, Ovid, Valerius Maximus, Propertius, Lucan, Cicero, the Disticha Catonis, Church Fathers, and the inscription on the tomb of Dante, as well as legal notes, in Italian and Latin, manuscript on paper [Italy (probably Lucca), late fifteenth century to 1520s]
106 leaves (plus a blank paper endleaf at each end, and including 3 blank leaves separating the legal section from the humanist one), apparently complete, opening initial section with contemporary foliation 1-34 (replacing struck through 88-112), c. 30 lines in a series of semi-humanist Italian hands (some quite fine and accomplished), some titles in larger capitals, occasional ‘pointing hands’ symbols, watermark similar to Briquet no. 5542 (recorded in Lucca, 1487) and some direct references to dates in the last decades of the fifteenth century (fols. 3v ‘1476’; 20v ‘1481’; and 25r ‘1494’), with further textual references to dates in the 1520s (fols. 4v and 6r ‘1520’; 20r ‘1521’, 28v ‘1523’ and 29v ‘1524’), some small spots and stains, else excellent condition, 209 by 140mm.; solid in nineteenth-century binding of pasteboards covered with marbled paper, parchment spine and covers, title “Manosc[r] Divers” gilt-tooled on black leather piece laid onto spine
On the face of it, the scholar who copied this manuscript for his own use would appear to have been a reluctant legal student, but an accomplished humanist as well as a good scribe. After an initial 34 folios with legal formulas in Latin and other related notes, the central section of the volume contains substantial quotations from Classical authors (fols. 36r-42v), including Horace, Juvenal, Virgil, Ovid, Valerius Maximus, Propertius, Lucan, Cicero (De Officiis ), Sallust, and the Disticha Catonis (as much as a page for each author, and sometimes several pages). To these have been added quotations from Cassiodorus, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo, shorter extracts from Seneca and Macrobius, Diogenes, Vergetius, and the Epistola amantis ad socium . A short series of epistolary forms for Sforza dukes follows as well as sample pieces of oratory (fol. 49v-73r). Then come a few leaves of further Cicero quotations as well as copies of some of Cicero’s letters (fols. 74v-80v).
Early in the volume, the copyist had already shown an interest in the work of the celebrated proto-humanist, Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), copying his epitaph for Dante Aligheri on fol. 48v, and this is followed on fols. 81r-95r by two Canzona morale , a Canzona frottola and several sonnets all ascribed to “Mess. Franc’ Petrarcha”, interspersed with occasional sonnets by Burchiello and Matteo Palmieri. Petrarch’s importance for the history of Italian language and the Renaissance cannot be overstated. His discovery of Cicero’s lost letters (Ad Atticum ) is the widely agreed starting point for the Renaissance, and he was the first poet laureate of Italy since the Roman Empire, crowned as such in the Capitol in Rome in 1341. His Italian verse would set the literary mould for much of the later development of that language, and less than a century after his death, Pietro Bembo would use his vernacular works to create the standard of modern Italian. The volume ends with the juridical glosses of Ludovico Pontano in verse on fols. 97r-101r, with a dating clause at the end of the text naming the exemplar as in Lari, Tuscany, a few mile south of Lucca: “mcccclxxj die xxviii januarij exemplavi Larij”, as well as further letter examples and a Italian translation of Psalm 41.
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