Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

Alternate Titles:

Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana, Beatus of Liebana from the Corsini Library, Beatus Corsiniana

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana
Beatus of Liebana from the Corsini Library
Beatus Corsiniana

Type
Extent / Format

342 pages / 16.7 x 9.7 cm

Origin
Date
1151-1200
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Author: Beatus of Liébana (died after 798)

Illustrations

10 miniatures

Former owners

Count Duke of Olivares
Lucas Juan Cortés
Cardinal Francesco Acquaviva
Cardinal Bartolomeo Corsini

Short description

The Corsini Codex has an exciting history of possession to tell that travels from Spain to Italy. The Beautus manuscript probably originates from the second half of the 12th century in the Sahagún Monastery in Spain. The remarkable Mozarabic style of the miniatures express themselves in the simple perfection of the depictions, which are set against a luminous orange colored background and are flamboyantly colored in some parts, incomplete in others. For this reason and through the discernable signs of usage, the checkered history and the practical application of the manuscript indicates that it was not only prized as a collectible, but also found regular use. As a result of this it is considered to be the most interesting of the 27 illustrated Beatus manuscripts that are known today.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

The Corsini Codex has an exciting history of possession to tell, that travels from Spain to Italy. The Beautus manuscript probably originates from the second half of the 12th century in the Sahagún Monastery in Spain. The remarkable Mozarabic style of the miniatures express themselves in the simple perfection of the depictions, which are set against a luminous orange colored background and are flamboyantly colored in some parts, incomplete in others. For this reason and through the discernable signs of usage, the checkered history and the practical application of the manuscript indicates that it was not only prized as a collectible, but also found regular use. As a result of this it is considered to be the most interesting of the 27 illustrated Beatus manuscripts that are known today.

A Beatus as a Treasure

In an unusually small format for a Beatus Manuscript of 16.7 x 9.7 cm, the Corsini Codex collects the most-influential Apocalypse commentary by Beatus of Liébana with gorgeous miniatures. Altogether, 10 miniatures adorn the 243 pages of the manuscript. Not only do the miniatures have an archaic and primordial character to their style, but so does the manuscript as a whole. The script, sometimes written in red ink, is recorded in Carolingian miniscule with Gothic echoes.

Impressive Miniatures

In terms of pictorial adornment, some make mention of a table with symbolic and referential content that adorns the codex. However, others are to be mentioned, especially the mostly half-page miniatures that illustrated the text. Simple borders surround the luminous orange-colored backgrounds, against which the scenes play out. In terms of content, the pictures are concerned with the tales of John and the angel of the church of Sardis, of the Antichrist who destroys Jerusalem, of Christ in the clouds, or of the angels of the apocalypse. Not just the completed miniatures are interesting. Also the incomplete, unfinished drawings make the manuscript something special, allowing the codex’s process of formation to be understood.
The style of the manuscript’s illumination can be attributed to Spain. The paintings appear simple and withdrawn. The two-dimensionality of the figures and the absence of depictions of nature indicate the Mozarabic style. This finds its clearest expression in the Corsini Codex.

From Spain to Italy

The estimation of the Corsini Codex’s worth is not clear judging by the manuscript’s signs of use. Also its history of ownership impressively describes how the specialness of this Beatus manuscript was already always agreed upon. Under King Philip IV of Spain, the codex was pilfered from Sahagún by the Count of Olivares. The manuscript then came in to the possession of the writer and librarian Juan Lucas Cortés. The Italian Cardinal Francesco Acquaviva acquired the Beatus at the beginning of the 18th century and brought it from Spain to Italy. There it was acquired by Cardinal Bartolomeo Corsini in 1723, whose library composed cornerstone of the Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana in Rome.

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