Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

London, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 36


+39 333 9860 410


Illuminated Facsimiles

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

London, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 36

Alternative titles – Divina Commedia di Alfonso d’Aragona – Göttliche Komödie des Alfons von Aragon.
Physical features – Codex on parchment, dimensions 365 x 258 mm, 190 folios.
Binding – Binding made in Spain in the 19th century. Light brown calfskin over pasteboards, blind tooling with floral and geometric motifs, marbled pastedowns.
Region of origin – Italy (Tuscany, possibly Siena).
Dating – 15th century (ca. 1442-1450).
Patronage – The manuscript was commissioned by Alfonso V of Aragon known as Alfonso the Magnanimous (b. 1396, d. 1458), King of Naples from 1442 to 1458 as Alfonso I. His coat of arms is visible in the lower margin of f. 1r.
Subsequent owners – In the 16th century, the codex belonged to Ferdinand of Aragon (b. 1488, d. 1550), who donated it to the Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes in Valencia in 1538. At the beginning of the 20th century, the English journalist Henry Yates Thompson (b. 1838, d. 1928), who collected illuminated manuscripts and was already the owner of an important collection, bought the codex from Luis Mayans.
Present repository – After the death of Henry Yates Thompson, his wife donated the manuscript to the British Library, where it is currently preserved under the shelfmark Ms. Yates Thompson 36.
Genre – Literature.
Content – Full text of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
Language – Italian.
Script – Gothic rotunda.
Decoration – The manuscript is richly illuminated with over 100 miniatures in colour and gold positioned at the bottom of the page, illustrating all three canticles of the poem. A historiated initial is placed at the beginning of each of the three canticles. Also noteworthy are the large colour and gold initials decorated with foliate motifs, and the gold initials on a pink, blue and green background placed at the beginning of each triplet.
Illuminators – The scenes from Hell and Purgatory (ff. 1-128) and the historiated initials at the beginning of each canticle are attributed to Priamo della Quercia (b. ca. 1400, d. 1467), who created them between 1442 and 1450. Previously, the same miniatures had been attributed to Lorenzo di Pietro known as Vecchietta (b. 1410, d. 1480), but in recent years this attribution has been disproved. The scenes from Paradise (ff. 129-190) were instead painted by Giovanni di Paolo (b. 1398, d. 1482), an Italian painter who was mainly active in Siena.
Style – Gothic, Renaissance.

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles



Type of reproduction – Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document.
Publisher – Franco Cosimo Panini Editore (Modena, 2006).
Series – Biblioteca Impossibile.
Limited edition – 750 numbered and certified copies.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate with the copy number is attached to the colophon of the facsimile and authenticated by the Publisher and the British Library.
Binding – Blue velvet binding with coat of arms of Alfonso V of Aragon on the front board, bosses on both boards, two straps with clasps, gilded edges.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, 2 tomes, size 32 x 25 cm, edited by Milvia Bollati. The essays are by Gennaro Toscano, Milvia Bollati, Peter Kidd, Marco Petoletti and Luca Azzetta.
Slipcase – The facsimile is preserved in an cream-coloured slipcase with embroidery and cornerpieces on the boards and gold lettering on the spine.
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.

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles, Franco Cosimo Panini Editore

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Franco Cosimo Panini Editore