363 results in English
Peresopnytsia Gospel, a Monument of the 16th Century Renaissance Art from South Russia
This work is devoted to one of the most important and beautifully decorated East Slavic manuscripts, the Peresopnytsia Gospel created in the mid-16th century, partly at the Monastery of the Mother of God in Peresopnytsia, Volyn, and partly at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity near L’viv, both in present-day Ukraine. The present book, by Alexander Gruzinskii, covers the history of the gospel, its ornamentation, and graphics. The first part focuses on the origin of the Peresopnytsia manuscript, which was rediscovered in 1830s by Slavist scholar Osip Bodjanskij. The ...
Atlas of Joan Martines
This manuscript atlas by Joan Martines, cosmographer to King Philip II of Spain, dated 1587, represents the combination of two cartographic schools that existed at the time of its creation. The older one was the traditional school of Majorca, which specialized in decorative portolan maps that by this time were obsolete with regard to the geographic information they conveyed. The newer one was the cartographic school of the Low Countries, which applied Renaissance principles and used different forms of cartographic representation based on new concepts in astronomy, mathematics, and geography ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Commentaries by Domizio Calderini on Works by Juvenal, Statius, Ovid, and Propertius
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Gulzar Calligraphic Panel
This calligraphic panel executed in black and red on a white ground decorated in gold contains a number of prayers (du'a's) directed to God, the Prophet Muhammad, and his son-in-law 'Ali. The letters of the larger words are executed in nasta'liq script and are filled with decorative motifs, animals, and human figures. This style of script, filled with various motifs, is called gulzar, which literally means 'rose garden' or 'full of flowers.' It usually is applied to the interior of inscriptions executed in nasta'liq, such as ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Defeat of Montaperti
This manuscript is an illustrated account of the events relating to the famous Battle of Montaperti of September 4, 1260, which is mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. The battle resulted in the victory of the armed faction of the Ghibellines, supporting the Holy Roman Emperor and led by Siena, over the Guelphs, supporting the pope and led by Florence. The manuscript was written and illustrated throughout by Niccolò di Giovanni di Francesco di Ventura da Siena, who signed it and stated that he completed the text on December ...
Antiphonary
This antiphonary (a book containing the choral parts of the Holy Office) was transferred to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena in 1811 from its place of origin, the Augustinian monastery of San Salvatore in Lecceto near Siena. By virtue of its specific liturgical function, the antiphonary, designed for the use of the monastic community, contains both the daytime and the nocturnal services. It was illuminated in 1442 as part of an extensive artistic program within the monastery promoted under priors Bartolomeo Tolomei and Girolamo Buonsignori. A bull by ...
Minor Works of Dante Alighieri
This small manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, in Renaissance script, contains poems from the Rime (Rhymes) by the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). These are so-called minor works that are distinguished from Dante’s Vita nuova (The new life), his book of sonnets recounting his early love for Beatrice, and his all-encompassing allegorical masterpiece, La divina commedia (The divine comedy). On the front cover is a 15th-century note, now almost totally faded, which states: "Di Cosimo de' Medici e degli Amici" (Belonging to Cosimo de’ Medici and ...
Collection of Speeches and Latin Epistles by Renaissance Humanists
This manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, formerly belonged to the Sienese Alessandro Tegliacci, as stated in a note written on the initial page by an unknown later owner: "Dedit mihi Alex(ande)r Tegliaccius die(?) 8 decembris 1581 atque sua humanitate donavit" (Alessandro Tegliacci kindly gave this to me as a gift on December 8, 1581). The decoration on the same leaf bears the coat of arms of the Tegliacci family. Alessandro can perhaps be identified as the scholar who was called by Cosimo II to be professor of ...
Treatise of the World's Creation
This manuscript, which contains a Tractatus de creatione mundi (Treatise on the World's Creation) from the Book of Genesis followed by a narration of the Passion of Christ (folios 99r–128v), is one of the most significant examples of late-13th-century Sienese illumination. The pictures, partly watercolor drawings and partly proper illuminations, were made by an extremely sophisticated Sienese artist who was heavily influenced by Transalpine miniaturists and active from around 1290 through the next decade. The illustrations, sketched by a fast, concise hand, stand out for their strikingly smooth ...
Poem Concerning the Departure of the Magi
This 15th-century manuscript, in Renaissance script, contains a poetic composition (De profectione Magorum adorare Christum et de innocentibus interfectis ab Herode) by a "Gabriel Volaterranus." The author was in all likelihood Gabriello Zacchi da Volterra, the archpriest (acting dean, vicar to the bishop) of the cathedral, who was from a culturally sophisticated background and died in 1467 at the age of 33. The author dedicates the work to Tommaso del Testa Piccolomini, the secret assistant of Pope Pius II (folio 132r), to whom Pius had granted the privilege of kinship ...
Dialogues of the Gods
This manuscript contains ten of the dialogues of Lucianus, a second-century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek, in the Latin version of Livio Guidolotto (also seen as Guidalotto or Guidalotti). Livio, a classical scholar from Urbino, was the apostolic assistant of Pope Leo X, and he dedicated his translation to the pope in an introductory epistle of 1518 ("Romae, Idibus maii MDXVIII"; folio 150v). The latest possible date for the manuscript thus is 1521, the year Leo died. The emblem of Giovanni de' Medici, with the beam accompanied by ...
Holy Qur'an
According to Islamic belief, the Holy Qur'an was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammad (570–632) by the Angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years. The Qur'an speaks in powerful, moving language about the reality and attributes of God, the spiritual world, God's purposes with mankind, man's relationship and responsibility to God, the coming of the Day of Judgment, and the life hereafter. It also contains rules for living, stories of earlier prophets and their communities, and vital insights and understandings concerning the meaning ...
The Spiritual Couplets
The most significant contribution of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73), the renowned poet and mystic of Iran, to Persian literature may be his poetry, and especially his famous Masnavi (The spiritual couplets). This work, which is said to be the most extensive verse exposition of mysticism in any language, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, and other fields. Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship to the ...
The Treasure of Khvarazm’Shah
Ismā‘īl ibn Ḥasan Jurjānī (circa 1042–circa 1136, also seen as Jorjānī and Gurjānī), known popularly as Hakim Jurjānī, was among the most famous physicians of 12th-century Iran. In the period between the Islamic conquest and the time of Jurjānī, almost all scientific books by Iranians were written in Arabic, including such famous works as al-Qānūn fī al-tibb (The canon of medicine) by Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Jurjānī's medical encyclopedia, Zakhīrah-i Khvārazm’Shāhī (The treasure of Khvarazm’Shah) was the first major medical book in post-Islamic Iran written in ...
The Book of Kings
Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed ...
History of Byzantium
This Greek manuscript on parchment dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries is one of the most valuable codices in the National Library of Spain, treasured for the richness of its illumination. The work, by Ioannes Scylitza (flourished 1081), is a history of the Byzantine emperors from 811 to 1057, covering events from the proclamation of Michael I Rangabe in 811 to the reign of Michael VI in 1056–57. The manuscript contains 577 miniatures by different artists. Most of the scenes are accompanied by a caption that explains ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
The Seville Bible
Biblia hispalense (The Seville Bible), also known as the Toletanus Codex, is a manuscript from the first half of the tenth century, in Latin written in lower-case Visigothic script by at least four copyists. The titles also appear in Hebrew, and there are notes in Arabic in the margins. The manuscript consists of booklets of eight sheets each, on parchment, with the text in three columns of 63–65 lines. Included are the texts of the Old and New Testaments, with a preface, prologues, and commentaries by Saint Jerome, Saint ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Etymology
Etymologiae (Etymology) is the best known work by Saint Isidore of Seville (circa 560–636), a scholar and theologian considered the last of the great Latin Church Fathers. It takes its name from a method of teaching that proceeds by explaining the origins and meaning of each word related to a topic. Saint Isidore drew on many different sources in his attempt to summarize all ancient knowledge and save it for posterity. The fame of the work led to it being widely copied and disseminated, and its popularity lasted even ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Seven-Part Code
This illuminated manuscript of the Siete partidas (Seven-part code), on parchment in Gothic script, dates from the 13th–15th centuries. The codex is important for several reasons. It was written in one scriptorium (except for Partida I, which was added in the 15th century) and it includes the complete Partidas with their ornamentation, and bibliographic clues that shed light on their origins. This body of law, commissioned and begun by Alfonso X and supplemented by later reforms, constitutes the most widely known legal system that governed Spain from the Middle ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Book of the Passion of Saint Margaret the Virgin, with the Life of Saint Agnes, and Prayers to Jesus Christ and to the Virgin Mary
This volume is a compilation of three manuscripts produced in Bologna at the end of the 13th century. It begins with the Passion of Saint Margaret of Antioch, in Latin. This is followed by two texts in Italian, one describing the life and devotion of Saint Agnes and one containing prayers to the Virgin Mary. Each manuscript is written in a different hand; evidence suggests that the three parts were brought together and bound at the beginning of the 14th century. The only part of the book that is illustrated ...
Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid
This 15th-century manuscript, known as the Riccardiana Virgil, includes the texts of the three extant works of the great Roman poet Virgil, the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and contains 88 miniature paintings in the lower margin of many of the vellum leaves. The miniatures, 86 in the Aeneid and one each in the Bucolics and the Georgics, are attributed to Florentine artist Apollonio di Giovanni and his workshop. Those illustrating the story of Aeneas reflect the influence of Benozzo Gozzoli, who in 1459 completed a suite of frescos ...
Dobreisho Gospel
This parchment manuscript, of which only a part has survived, is from the first quarter of the 13th century. The year 1221 was written on the manuscript at a significantly later date and may have been copied from an original colophon by a later owner. Known as the Dobreisho Gospel, the manuscript is an important witness to the history and early development of the Bulgarian language. Of particular interest is the rich illumination, including two full-page miniatures of the evangelists Luke and John. The portrait of the latter is accompanied ...
Banitsa Gospel
The Banitsa Gospel, written on parchment in Church Slavonic in the late 13th century, is one of the manuscripts testifying to the end of the anonymity of Bulgarian men of letters at around this time. The colophon indicates that the scribe who made the manuscript was the priest Ioann at Saint Nicholas Church in the village of Banitsa (presumably in the Vratsa region of present-day northwestern Bulgaria). The characteristic script and the ornamental illumination, elaborated in black, red, and yellow ink, reflect a local manuscript tradition. The menologion (calendar) includes ...
Priest Puncho Miscellany of 1796
This intriguing manuscript was written in the vernacular Bulgarian of the late 18th century and was intended to be printed. The content of the manuscript consists of literary texts compiled from older manuscripts, Russian printed books, apocrypha, a reworked version of the first real Bulgarian chronicle, Paisiĭ Khilendarski’s Istoriia slavianobolgarskaia (Slaveno-Bulgarian history), as well as texts of unspecified or unknown origin. The illumination, although stylistically naive, is very rich. It includes two self-portraits of the scribe and compiler Puncho, together with numerous miniatures, some of them with unusual iconography ...
The Radiances of Revelation and the Mysteries of Exegesis
Kitāb anwār al-tanzīl wa asrār al-ta’wīl (The radiances of revelation and the mysteries of exegesis) is the best-known work of the 13th century savant, ʻAbdallāh ibn ʻUmar al-Bayḍāwī (died circa 1286). As the title indicates, the subject of the work is Qur’anic exegesis. After an introduction in which al-Bayḍāwī praises the science of al-tafsīr (exegesis) as the principal religious science and the basis for sharia (Islamic law), the text of the Qur’an follows, with each ayah (verse) appearing in red ink accompanied by an explanatory passage in ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Supplication Attributed to Caliph Ali
Caliph ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61) is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. Shown here is an illuminated 18th-century manuscript copy of the Munājāt (Supplication) of ʻAli ibn Abī Ṭālib. Included are both the original Arabic and a translation into Persian. The text is written on ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Collection of Poetry by Kalīm
Abū Ṭālib Kalīm Hamadānī (or Kāshānī, died 1651; 1061 A.H.) was one of the foremost Persian poets of the 17th century. He was born in Hamadan (present-day Iran) but appears to have lived in Kashan (also in Iran) for a sizeable portion of his life—hence the appellation Kāshānī. He received his education in Kashan and in Shiraz before moving to India to serve the Mughal ruler Jahangir (reigned 1605–27). Abū Ṭālib was thus among a large number of Persian poets and literati who left Persia in search ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Collection of Poems by Shāhī
Dīvān-i Shāhī (Collection of poems by Shāhī) is a divan (collection) of verse by Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (died 1453; 857 A.H.), a prominent Persian poet of the Timurid era who composed in many of the classical forms of Persian poetry. Amīr Shāhī’s poetry belongs to the tradition of Persian mystical love poetry. The collection includes poems composed in the ghazal (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), qaṣīda (lyric poem), and rubā’ī (quatrain) forms. Amīr Shāhī was born in Sabzevar (present-day ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Pentateuch
This manuscript is an Arabic translation of the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch), which is called on the first leaf, “The Holy Torah.” The book contains little information about its production other than a note at the end indicating that it is of Coptic origin. Framed cruciform patterns appear at the top of the first leaf and are the only illustrations in the work. There are chapter and verse headings in red as well as guidewords and occasional directions for recitation during fasts and feasts. At the ...
On Plants
Historia Plantarum (On plants) is a natural science encyclopedia, in which animals, plants, and minerals are illustrated and described for their medicinal properties, in keeping with the medieval tradition of the tacuina medievali (medieval health handbooks), and from which the codex derives its most common name, Tacuinum sanitatis. The work was first compiled as Taqwim al-Sihhah (The maintenance of health) by the 11th-century Baghdad physician Ibn Buṭlān, and chief among his Greek sources was Dioscorides, a physician in the first century. The court in Sicily commissioned a Latin translation in ...
Contributed by Casanatense Library
City of God
This codex of Saint Augustine’s De civitate dei (City of God) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The volume is bound in red morocco leather with the Medici coat of arms at the center and on each corner of the front cover. It has an illuminated page (recto of folio 11) and a number of illuminated initial capital letters (e.g., recto of folio 31). Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote more than 100 works, of which his Confessiones (Confessions) and De ...
Concerning Virgins and Other Works
This codex of De virginibus seu potius opera varia (Concerning virgins and other works) by Saint Ambrose (circa 340−97) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The book has the distinctive Medici red leather binding and a beautifully illuminated first page (recto of folio 1) executed by Matteo da Milano (active circa 1492−circa 1523). On the last page, the colophon gives the name of the copyist as “Martinus Antonius” and the date of completion as “Ides of October 1489.” Ambrose was born in ...
The Bible. First Volume of the Bible
This codex is the first volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. The illuminations have been attributed to Attavante Attavanti. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume contains the Old Testament in ...
Psalms of David. Third Volume of the Bible
This codex is the third volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume, which is known as Corvinian Psalter, contains the complete New Testament, preceded by ...
Five Books of the Sentences
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence is a compilation of texts related to the Christian Church in Visigothic Spain. As stated on the colophon, the volume was originally made for King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90). It includes Sententiarum libri V (Five books of the sentences) by Taio Samuel (died 683), followed by a collection of writings by the Church Fathers chosen by Isidore of Seville, and a letter by Quiricus, bishop first of Barcelona and then of Toledo, to Taio Samuel ...
Seven Books of the Saturnalia
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence contains the complete text of Saturnalia by the fourth−fifth century Latin author Macrobius. The work takes the form of a series of dialogues among learned men at a fictional banquet at which they discuss antiquities, history, literature, mythology, and other topics. The manuscript may have been copied by a scribe belonging to Bernardo Nuzzi’s circle of copyists in Florence. It organizes the seven original books of Macrobius into five books. The inscription on the recto ...
History of Rome
Historia by Appianus of Alexandria (circa 90−160) is a narrative of the history of Rome from the Republic (circa 509−27 BC) to the second century AD. The present codex, from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, is a translation from the original Greek into Latin by Pier Candido Decembrio (1399−1477), commissioned by Pope Nicholas V (1397−1455). In the colophon (recto of folio 151), the copyist, Carolus Hylarii Fatarius, states that the manuscript originally was intended for the library of King Matthias Corvinus ...
Three Books on Life
Marsilio Ficino (1433−99) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher, theologian, priest, and physician, best known for his translations and exegeses of the works of Plato. His most important original writings include Theologia Platonica (Platonic theology, 1469−74) and Liber de Christiana religione (Book on the Christian religion, 1474). Presented here is the codex of one of Ficino’s later works, De triplici vita (Three books on life, 1489), from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The colophon on the verso of folio 174 indicates that the ...
Mirror of the Saxons
More than 400 manuscripts of the Sachsenspiegel (Mirror of the Saxons) survive, attesting to the wide dissemination and influence on the whole of Europe of this first law book in German. The most beautiful copies are the four illuminated manuscripts, all produced between 1295 and 1371, and now held in Heidelberg, Oldenburg, Dresden, and Wolfenbüttel. The most artistically valuable of these documents is the Dresden manuscript, preserved in the Saxon State and University Library. Its 924 image sequences on 92 pages are the most extensive of those in the four ...
Horologium Olomoucense
Horologium Olomoucense is a collectarium (liturgical book of collects or prayers) that is recited during the Divine Office at horae (specific times) during the day. The manuscript was written for the cathedral chapter in Olomouc in the southern part of the present-day Czech Republic before the year 1150. A famous image depicting Pope Gregory I (circa 540–604) is found at the beginning of the liturgical texts. The pope is on a throne and dictating to his friend and pupil, Petrus Diaconus, who is sitting at his feet. He is ...
Abridged Version of “De arte phisicali de cirurgia”, “Fistula in ano”, Including an Obstetrical Treatise
Manuscript X 188 in the National Library of Sweden dates to around 1425–35 and contains two works by John Arderne (active 1307–70), an abridged version of De arte phisicali et de cirurgia (Of the physical arts and surgery) and Fistula in ano. Also included is a tract on obstetrics by another author, Muscio. De arte phisicali et de cirurgia is a textbook on medicine and surgery; Fistula in ano deals with rectal disorders. The manuscript is written in two long columns on a parchment roll that is 542 ...