History of the Destruction of Troy

Lat.F.v.IV.5 - National Library of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Alternate Titles:

Historia de la destrucción de Troya, Geschichte von der Zerstörung Trojas

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Historia de la destrucción de Troya
Geschichte von der Zerstörung Trojas

Type
Extent / Format

302 pages / 28.8 x 22.2 cm

Origin
Date
End of the 14th century
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Author: Guido della Colonna

Illustrations

35 miniatures

Former owners

Jean-Louis Gaignant
Stroganov family

Short description

The popular historical work by Guido de Columnis in a grandiose 14th century French manuscript: this magnificent edition of the History of the Destruction of Troy, whose provenance is associate with famous names, is stored in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg. Two French miniaturists created the impressive visual adornment of the manuscript at the end of the 14th century, clearly influenced by the Italian Quattrocento and yet completely rooted within the tradition of the period’s outstanding French illumination. In this way, the work of Guido de Columnis can be discovered in a magnificent combination with outstanding illumination!

Facsimile editions available

Description

History of the Destruction of Troy

The popular historical work by Guido de Columnis in a grandiose 14th century French manuscript: this magnificent edition of the History of the Destruction of Troy, whose provenance is associate with famous names, is stored in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg. Two French miniaturists created the impressive visual adornment of the manuscript at the end of the 14th century, clearly influenced by the Italian Quattrocento and yet completely rooted within the tradition of the period’s outstanding French illumination. In this way, the work of Guido de Columnis can be discovered in a magnificent combination with outstanding illumination!

Grandiose Battle Scenes

Waring hosts in luminous blue armor people the miniatures. Kings and protagonists are in bright colors, the people are represented as elegant gothic figures with elongated bodies, and there are decorative backgrounds with medieval peasants before a colorful raster. Gorgeous initials and exuberant bordures of fine foliage additionally characterize the elegant overall impression of the manuscript. Clearly oriented stylistically on the Italian art of the Quattrocento, the paintings are nonetheless rooted firmly in the tradition of the outstanding French illumination of that period. Two anonymous miniaturists took part in the furnishing of the manuscript. The battle scenes display an impressive variety of gestures and movements and so they are an expression of the great mastery of these artists!

The History of Troy According to Guido de Columnis

Manuscript Lat.F.v.IV.5 of the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg contains a total of 35 miniatures on 302 pages. These illustrate the famous text by Guido de Columnis about the destruction of Troy. Columnis composed his magnum opus in elegant Latin between 1270 and 1287 and organized it into 35 chapters. The text was adopted from Benoît de Sainte-Maure and enriched with his own ideas. Therefore, it contained moralizing notes, inter alia, to help Christians understand the story. At the time of its creation – the late 14th century – the St. Petersburg codex was extremely popular across all of Europe.

Desired by the Tsarina

Several famous names are bound-up with the St. Petersburg manuscript. The history of the codex up until the 18th century remains a mystery. It then first appeared in the possession of Jean-Louis Gaignant, a French book dealer. Catherine the Great was interested in buying Gaignant’s entire collection. However, the Trojan codex was acquired at the same time by the powerful Stroganov family. The treasured book finally reached the Russian National Library in 1889, where it is stored like a true gem today.

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