Divina Commedia degli Obizzi

Cod. 67 - Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (Padua, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Divine Comedy Cod. 67 in the Seminario of Padua, Göttliche Komödie degli Obizzi

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Divine Comedy Cod. 67 in the Seminario of Padua
Göttliche Komödie degli Obizzi

Type
Extent / Format

301 pages / 34.0 x 23.9 cm

Origin
Date
Second half of the 14th century
Style
Genre
Content

Dante's Divine Comedy with commentaries by Jacopo della Lana and Andrea della Lancia

Language
Artist / School

Michelino da Besozzo

Former owners

Alfonso Alvarotti

Script

Gothic rotunda

Short description

With his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) not only created his magnum opus ca. 1307, but also founded Italian literature. Today, several editions of this masterpiece are in existence. One of them, the Codex Obizzi, originates from the second half of the 14th century and aside from the important poem, contains commentaries by Jacopo della Lana (1290-1365) and Andrea della Lancia (pre-1296 – post-1357). Futhermore, what makes the manuscript really something special are its 100 luminous miniatures, tasteful bordures, and lavish initials by Michelino da Besozza (ca. 1370 – ca. 1455). In it, the illuminator encapsulates the events of this entire text and glamorously presents them before the eyes of the beholder.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Divina Commedia degli Obizzi

At the end of the 14th century in Italy, a 301-page edition of Dante Alighieri’s (1265-1321) Divine Comedy, which also contained additional commentaries by Jacopo della Lana (1290-1365) and Andrea della Lancia (pre-1296 – post-1357). This Italian language work also comprises a bedrock for Italian literature and is adorned with 100 glimmering miniatures, splendid initials, and rich decorative elements by Michelino da Besozzo (ca. 1370 – ca. 1455). Since the escutcheon of the Obizzi family is to be found on the first page of the Inferno, it can be surmised that it was commissioned or was in the possession of the family for a time.

Miniatures from the Best

The Italian Michelino da Besozzo (ca. 1370 – ca. 1455), one of the most gifted late-Gothic artists from Lombardy, was commissioned to illuminate the manuscript. He already worked for Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) and also demonstrates all of his ability with the depictions of Dante’s work. Contrary to the many other illuminations, he did not make these in collaboration with other artists but rather alone.

Great Art in Small Format

The illuminator encapsulates the events of the entire text in 100 splendidly-colored miniatures. In order to achieve this, he decided against isolated full page miniatures and instead chose smaller depictions, which could take up the width of a column. These smaller-format pictures are captivating with their luminosity and the frugal application of gold leaf, wherewith Besozzo skillfully emphasized its features. Corresponding to the scene were artful flowering tendrils, able to enchant with their detailed portrayal of nature.

An Unknown History behind the Book

There are only two clues concerning the origin and history of the comprehensive codex. One is that it appears to havecome to the Biblioteca del Seminario in 1720, when Alfonso Alvarotti died and the library of his entire collection was bequeathed. The second reference is a coat of arms on the first page of the Inferno. In spite of heavy damage, it can be identified as that of the Obizzi family, who had connections in the area of Ferrara and Padua.

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