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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 ...
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 ...
On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long ...
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 ...
The Kyiv Gospel was created in 1411 by a monk called Makarii in the Pustynno-Mykolaivskyi Monastery in Kiev, by order of the monk Ionah Bolakyrev, as recorded in one of the historic inscriptions on the work. This copy is one of the few 15th-century manuscripts from Kiev that specifies where it was made. The Gospel is known as a paleographic specimen of the “younger” semi-uncial script in Ukraine. Two headpieces of simple composition, headings, and initials are executed in dark-brown ink and vermilion. The manuscript was restored and bound in ...
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
Life of Animals
This manuscript is a copy of the long version of al-Damīrī’s Hayāt al-hayawān (Life of animals), an encyclopedic work that was widely disseminated in the Islamic world in three versions or recensions—long, intermediate, and short. Muhammad ibn Musā ibn Isā Kamāl al-Din Ibn Ilyās ibn Abd-Allāh al-Damīrī (circa 1342–1405) was an Egyptian tailor who became an author and scholar. Building upon earlier work on animals by Jāhith (780–868), al-Damiri combined the Arabic and Persian literary tradition of animal tales with the legacy of Greece and Rome ...
Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany, around 1400, the son of an aristocratic family with ties to the local metalworking industry. He lived in Strasbourg (in present-day France) for a time, where he carried out experiments with moveable metallic type made from a mold. By the mid-1450s, he had perfected a system of printing with moveable type that he used to create what became the world’s most famous book, the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate), generally known as the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars have thoroughly researched all aspects ...
The History of Bologna in Four Books. Poems to Galeatius Marescottus
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 ...
Life History and Sermon of Buddha Abstracted from Buddhist Scriptures
Seokbosangjeol (Life history and sermons of Buddha abstracted from Buddhist scriptures) was compiled by Prince Suyang, the son of King Sejong and Queen Soheon, in the 29th year of King Sejong’s reign (1447). It was written in Korean prose style, not only to pray for the repose of the prince’s mother, but also to let the common people learn Buddhist doctrines more easily. Its content teaches about Buddha’s life and his main sermons, selected from the Chinese sutras such as the Sutra of the Lotus, the Sutra ...
Little is known about the 15th-century Venetian geographer and cosmographer Giovanni Leardo, beyond the fact that three of his world maps have survived from late-medieval times, signed by their creator. This is the oldest world map held in the library of the American Geographical Society, and it is considered the finest example of a medieval mappamundi in the Western hemisphere. Leardo’s two other maps, similar but not identical, are in Italy, at the Biblioteca Comunale in Verona and the Museo Civico in Vicenza. The map depicts the parts of ...
Regimen of Health
Heinrich von Laufenberg (circa 1390–1460) was a cleric from the southwest German town of Freiburg, a prolific writer of prose and verse in both German and Latin, who is best known for his religious lyrics. His Regimen Sanitatis (Regimen of health) of 1429 is a medical-astronomical compendium of guidance to healthful living that stretches to more than 6,000 lines of metrical German. The work presents the reader with practical rules for healthy living concerning such matters as a balanced diet, phlebotomy (bloodletting, then a common treatment to prevent ...
The Gutenberg Bible is the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. It is a monument that marks a turning point in the art of bookmaking and in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world. The Bible was completed in Mainz, Germany, probably in late 1455. Johann Gutenberg, who lived from about 1397 to 1468, is generally credited with inventing the process of making uniform and interchangeable metal type and developing the materials and methods to make printing possible. This Bible, with its ...
Bible (Old Testament) of the Ratisbon Dominican Order
This manuscript forms the first volume of a Latin Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (now Regensburg). It comprises several books of the Old Testament as well as interpretations of biblical terms. The manuscript contains unusual miniatures by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the ancient Ratisbon School of Illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes ...
Bible of the Ratisbon Dominican Order
This manuscript containing the books of the prophets and other biblical texts forms the second volume of a Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (Regensburg). It contains extraordinary miniatures by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the ancient Ratisbon School of Illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes (all now at the Bavarian State Library in ...
Leaf from a Benedictine Psalter
The 1459 Psalterium Benedictinum cum canticis et hymnis (Benedictine Psalter with canticles and hymns) was the third major project from the cradle of printing in Mainz, and the earliest example of a Benedictine printed book. After Johann Gutenberg printed his famous Bible of circa 1455, his principal creditor, Johannes Fust (1400−66), sued to recover his investment and was awarded Gutenberg's press and its accoutrements. Fust and Peter Schöffer of Mainz then went into business together, printing a Psalter arranged for the Roman Divine Office in 1457, and a ...