Medici Aesop

Spencer 50 - The New York Public Library (New York, United States of America)
Private Collection

Alternate Titles:

Esopo Medici, Medici-Aesop, Les Fables d'Ésope, Le Fiabe dell’Esopo Mediceo

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Esopo Medici
Medici-Aesop
Les Fables d'Ésope
Le Fiabe dell’Esopo Mediceo

Type
Extent / Format

150 pages / 20.0 x 12.0 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1480
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Lorenzo I. de’ Medici (1449-1492)

Artist / School

Scribe: Demetrios Damilas
Miniaturists: Francesco di Antonio del Chierico and Mariano del Buono and others

Illustrations

135 half-page miniatures adorned with gold

Former owners

Lorenzo’s son, Piero (1471 - 1503)

Short description

This wonderful collection of fables from the Aesop, the Greek writer, is illustrated with the most beautiful illustrations in this manuscript. Originally intended as a Greek-Schoolbook for Piero de Medici in Florence in 1480, this manuscript offers a deep look into the tremendous art of the Italian Renaissance. The famous fables from Antiquity with animal and human protagonists impress with their playful lessons in moralistic life as much today as they did in the 16th century. This edition of the Medici manuscript is even today the most beautiful, illustrated and embroidered collection of Aesop’s Fables.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Medici Aesop

This wonderful collection of fables from the Aesop, the Greek writer, is illustrated with the most beautiful illustrations in this manuscript. Originally intended as a Greek-Schoolbook for Piero de Medici in Florence in 1480, this manuscript offers a deep look into the tremendous art of the Italian Renaissance. The famous fables from Antiquity with animal and human protagonists impress with their playful lessons in moralistic life as much today as they did in the 16th century. This edition of the Medici manuscript is even today the most beautiful, illustrated and embroidered collection of Aesop’s Fables.

A Schoolbook for the Offspring of de Medici

Lorenzo I de Medici, known as il Magnifico, the Magnificent, no doubt gave the contract for the Aesop-Edition for his son Piero. For the time around 1500, this wasn’t anything special, but the return of the classic Greek texts in the Renaissance lead to a new discovery of the Greek writer, Aesop (620-560 BC). Not only moralistic teaching potential of the fables were important, but also the original language of the texts, Greek, was studied anew and is featured in this text. Aesop’s animal fables were already in Late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages widely available in the Latin translation. But later in around 1300 they were re-translated into the original Greek. Thus had Aesop received his new meaning as an entertaining and educational lecturer, whose work instructed many young men in Greek. One can well imagine, that Piero de Medici also used this manuscript with that goal in mind.
The manuscript’s connection to the influential Florentine Family, the Medicis is illustrated not only by inventory lists that prove Piero de Medici’s ownership of the book, but also due to a direct piece of evidence that lies in one of the miniatures; a small Coat of Arms of the Medici family is recognizable.

Illustrations of Animals from the greatest Artists

Throughout the 150 pages, a multitude of Aesop’s Fables are tabulated. And with 135 half-page miniatures, are richly and pricelessly enriched with gold. An unknown writer copied the text in around 1480 in Milan from a Bonus Accursius printed edition. As the artists of the book’s embroidery, Mariano del Buono (1433-1504) and the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon can be identified, who were both masters of manuscript art of the 16th century. They designed the pages with wonderfully gorgeous initials and floral ornaments, alongside a left-side border around the text. The wonderful and impressive miniatures are like panel paintings in a narrow border, conveniently placed with the integrated text. A bright world of animals populate the miniatures; donkeys, horses, dogs, rabbits, all manner of birds, wild boar, foxes and camels. Altogether, the wondrous ** spiritedness and the realism** of the Renaissance is depicted. Grandiose, airy landscapes highlight the representations. The artistic and lovely designed miniatures, by the same token, embrace the adjoining text’s juxtaposition with animals, people, and God, as the individual stories go hand-and-hand with one another.
The coloring and the wonderfully crafted depictions of animals are not only entertaining for adults, but also certainly for children. They underline the anecdotes, that Piero de Medici certainly also as a kid learned from this present manuscript, with contains some of the most beautiful illustrational editions of Aesop’s fables in the Renaissance.

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