Divine Comedy of Jacopo Gradenigo

ms. SC-MS. 1162 (D II 41)

Rimini, Civic Livrary Gambalunga, Sc-Ms. 1162.

Tiratura di 599 esemplari unici al mondo di cui 529 a numeri arabi, 50 in numeri romani, 20 HC fuori commercio

  • Dimensions 395×255 mm
  • 120 carte
  • Miniature attribuite a Giacomo Gradenigo, ad un bolognese prossimo al Maestro delle iniziali di Bruxelles e al veneto Cristoforo Cortese
  • Stampa fine art
  • Applicazione della foglia d’oro a mano
  • Carta pergamena trattata a mano per il raggiungimento dello stato ottimale di invecchiamento
  • Legatura eseguita artigianalmente
  • Pelle fiore a concia naturale
  • Cucitura a mano

The Divine Comedy nowadays conserved at Gambalunga Library in Rimini, plays a very particular role and in some ways a rare excellence in the history of illustrations of the Dante’s poem in Italy in the fourteenth century, both for the illustrious clientele, and for the exquisite quality of illustration due to high class masters and in particular due to Cristoforo Cortese, the most important venetian late-gothic illuminator. Large format, made of soft parchment and written in elegant littera textualis (Gothic writing), still kept in an ancient if not original binding, the codex contains not only the text of the Divine Comedy but also the appropriately re-worked commentary by Iacopo della Lana.

The conception of the work and its exemplary belongs to the late venetian writer and poet, Jacopo Gradenigo so-called Belletto.

Jacopo Gradenigo, descending from one of the most ancient and illustrious venetian patrician families, was assiduously involved tin the civil life carrying out various prestigious official roles.

Gradenigo, wise administrator of his own money did not fail to record the expenses incurred for the execution of the work in a note in a parchment sheet, nowadays glued inside the back plate of the binding, in which are written the payments made for the parchments, for the paragraph signs, for the leather cover and for the silver finishing made by goldsmith Carlo, and finally for the binding made by ‘Cerbero bidello’ (Cerberus janitor). This last mention is very important because it brings us back to undoubtedly to the university environment and more precisely to the Padua’s Study where in 1400 a janitor named is reported.

Nota spese

The masters called to work in the Divine Comedy are certainly two;

to the Master of Bruxelles, Bolognese illustrator identified as Giovanni di Fra Silvestro, are due the first page (f. 2r) with frame and emblem, a decorated initial (f. 2v) and the first vignette (f. 4r), while to the second one, Cristoforo Cortese, the next twenty-three miniatures, which for their refined and delicate touch and affable emotionality reveal to be exquisitely Venetian works.

Dante’s codex, in 1422 was probably conserved by Sanudo’s family, as a paper copy in three volumes was made, that one containing the Paradise was signed in 1422 by Marin Sanudo, it became property of the Library of Carlo Malatesta and finally it became property of Gambalunga Library in 1793 together with the prestigious library of Cardinal Giuseppe Garampi.