FEATURES – Codex on parchment, 433 x 285 mm, 590 pp. (295 ff.). Green velvet binding of recent restoration (1999-2000) by the Istituto Centrale di Patologia del Libro.
ORIGIN – Italy: Milan.
CHRONOLOGY – Late 14th century: 1396-1400.
PATRONAGE AND OWNERS – The manuscript was produced in the 14th century at the court of Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), as a gift for Wenceslaus IV king of Bohemia (1361-1419). During the 15th century the codex became part of the collection of Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490), king of Bohemia from 1469. Matthias Corvinus’ property of the codex is stated by the coat of arms on f. 1r, which was painted over the eagle of Wenceslaus IV, whose outline is nevertheless still visible. The same eagle is instead maintained at f. 21r. Other possible owners of the manuscript, before the purchase by the Biblioteca Casanatense in the 18th century, were the Portuguese physician Rodrigo da Fonseca (1550-1622), and Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (1620-1700). A note of possession also appears on f. 295v.
GENRE – Treatises / Secular books; Medicine / Botany.
CONTENTS – The work, whose author is anonymous, illustrates and describes the therapeutic properties of plants, animals and minerals. The Historia Plantarum is therefore not only a medical herbarium but an authentic encyclopedia of natural sciences, which gives us an important picture of the medical and therapeutic knowledge in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages.
LANGUAGE – Latin.
SCRIPT – Italian blackletter in brown ink.
SCRIBE – Written by two hands (f. 1r-v and ff. 2r-295r).
DECORATION – Illustrations of plants are over 500 (e.g. f. 98r, f. 197r, f. 226v). More than 80 illustrations of animals (e.g. f. 254v, f. 259r) and more than 30 illustrations of minerals are added to the botanical illustrations. The corpus of illustrations is completed by representations of tools and scenes representing episodes of daily life. The miniatures usually occupy the top of the page, but many fill it almost entirely. One can also find simple, decorated and historiated initials, friezes and architectural motifs, animal and human figures.
ARTIST – Giovannino de’ Grassi and his son Salomone de’ Grassi.
STYLE – Gothic.
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles