ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Sphaerae coelestis et planetarum descriptio – Influenze de pianeti spiegate con miniature tirate al vivo da incerto.
CODICOLOGY – Codex on parchment, dimensions 240 x 170 mm, 16 folios (32 pages).
BINDING – Red sheepskin binding.
ORIGIN – Italy (Milan).
DATING – 15th century (1450-1460).
PATRONAGE AND OWNERS – The history of De Sphaera is full of mystery. The patronage is uncertain, apart from the presence of the greyhound between the Visconti and Sforza arms (f. 4v). It is probable that the manuscript was commissioned by Bianca Maria Visconti (b. 1425, d. 1468) and Francesco Sforza (b. 1401, d. 1466), and that their granddaughter Bianca Maria Sforza (b. 1472, d. 1510) was a later owner. Equally uncertain are the circumstances under which it came to Ferrara. The prevailing theory is that it was part of the dowry of Anna Maria Sforza (b. 1476, d. 1497), who married Alfonso I d’Este (b. 1476, d. 1534) in 1491.
GENRE – Treatises / Secular books, Astronomy / Astrology.
LANGUAGE – Italian.
SCRIPT – Semi-Gothic script, in red and blue ink.
DECORATION – The rich decorative apparatus consists of 15 full-page miniatures, various astronomical drawings spread over 9 pages and a Tabula climatum. A white greyhound between the arms of the Visconti and Sforza families is represented in the folio that opens the series of miniatures. The subsequent miniatures illustrate the influence of the sun, moon and various planets on people’s lives: for instance, Venus induces young people to music, poetry and – of course – love. The miniatures are arranged in pairs: on the left-hand folio, the anthropomorphic figure of the planet dominates, flanked by its zodiac houses, while the full-page miniature on the right-hand folio largely depicts scenes from everyday life.
ILLUMINATOR – The authorship of this opus magnum of astrological miniature painting has been attributed to Cristoforo de Predis, a leading figure in 15th-century Lombard miniature painting but about whose life we know very little. He was born around 1446, presumably in Milan, and was deaf-mute. The latter element he reveals by signing another of his works, the Sforza-Savoia Legendarium: OPUS XR(IST)OFORI DE PREDIS MUTI DIE 6 APRILIS 1476. He met Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452, d. 1519) when the latter visited Milan for the production of The Virgin of the Rocks (1483): it was in fact Cristoforo’s family who hosted him in their home. He died at the age of thirty-seven, after having served with the most important patrons of the time.
STYLE – Renaissance.
EXTERNAL LINKS – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (digitised manuscript).
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Tractatus Mundi Johannes de Sacrobosco
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 – Il Bulino edizioni d’arte (Modena, 2010).
Series – Ars Illuminandi.
Limited edition – The facsimile was produced in 999 numbered and certified copies. The first 19 copies, numbered I to XIX, were reserved for the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali and the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria. Copies 1 to 980 were destined for international distribution.
Certificate of authenticity – The authenticity certificate is affixed to the colophon of the facsimile and is signed by Roberto Bini for Il Bulino edizioni d’arte.
Printing – Integrated offset litho printing with gold foil embossing.
Binding – Red leather binding, with Visconti-Sforza coat of arms stamped in gold.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, size 32 x 24 cm, 174 pages, colour images. Essays by Venturi, Gianni; Battini, Annalisa; Lazzi, Giovanna; Bertozzi, Marco; Incerti, Manuela. Afterword by Bini Mauro.
Slipcase – The facsimile and commentary volume are housed in a blue cloth, gold-embossed, double compartment slipcase.
ISBN – 978-88-86251-84-6.
Copyright photos: Il Bulino edizioni d’arte, Illuminated Facsimiles