ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Sul Gioco degli Scacchi – Schifanoia – On the Game of Chess – Du Jeu d’Échecs – Über das Schachspiel.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, 160 x 115 mm, 48 folios (96 pages).
ORIGIN – Italy.
DATING – 15th–16th century (c. 1500).
PROVENANCE – The manuscript was written and dedicated by Fra Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli, commonly known as Luca Pacioli (b. 1445, d. 1527), to the Marquise of Mantua Isabella d’Este (b. 1474, d. 1539) and her husband Francesco II Gonzaga (b. 1466, d. 1519). Pacioli was a mathematician, author among other things of the first treatise on arithmetic and algebra published in print. He came into contact with many illustrious personalities of his time, in particular his friendships with Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452, d. 1519), Piero della Francesca (b. 1412, d. 1492) and Leon Battista Alberti (b. 1404, d. 1472) should be mentioned. In 1499, after residing in Milan for two years at the court of Ludovico Maria Sforza known as il Moro (b. 1452, d. 1508), he went to Mantua together with Leonardo. It was during these years that he produced the manuscript for Isabella d’Este.
SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPT – The codex has only recently been rediscovered. Its existence was previously known – thanks to written testimonies by Pacioli himself, who, for example, mentions it in his work De Viribus Quantitatis – but it was considered lost as early as the 16th century. It was found in 2006, among the volumes in the library of Count Guglielmo Coronini Cronberg (b. 1905, d. 1990). It is probable that Count Guglielmo Coronini had acquired it in Venice no later than 1950. Following the discovery, all necessary investigations were carried out to leave no doubt as to the authenticity of the manuscript. In particular, palaeographer Attilio Bartoli Langeli and Italian linguistics lecturer Enzo Mattesini were involved. The small codex is currently in the Archivio Coronini Cronberg and is probably the most important piece in the entire library.
GENRE – Treatises / Secular books, Games.
CONTENT – This small treatise on the game of chess brings together examples of mathematical and logical strategies of the time. It offers one hundred and seventeen games in all, with «decisioni» (decisions) made in the medieval way and others according to the revolutionary «a la rabiosa» (rabid/furious) technique, introduced at the end of the 15th century. Pacioli himself defines it as «schifanoia» (boredom dodger): a «iocondo et alegro tractato» (playful and cheerful treatise) useful as a boredom dodger.
LANGUAGE – Italian.
DECORATION – The examples are illustrated with over 100 drawings in red and black.
SCRIBE / ARTIST – The manuscript was written and decorated by Pacioli himself. As it was produced during the period of his collaboration with Leonardo da Vinci, it is believed that Leonardo may also have taken part in the production of some of the drawings. However, this fact has not yet been endorsed by any definitive research.
STYLE – Renaissance.
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Sur le, Moor
Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher – Aboca Museum (Sansepolcro, 2007).
Limited edition – This facsimile edition was printed in 999 numbered and certified copies.
Binding – Goatskin cover, blind tooling, stitching on two bands.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian. Critical essays by Diego D’Elia, Serenella Ferrari Benedetti, Duilio Contin, Attilio Bartoli Langeli, Enzo Mattesini, Alessandro Sanvito, Adolivio Capece. Presentation by Valentino Mercati.
Slipcase – The facsimile and the commentary volume are issued in a double-compartment slipcase. The facsimile is also preserved in a special oak-wood case.
ISBN/EAN – 9788895642574.
Copyright photos: Aboca Museum