Medici Aesop


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Illuminated Facsimiles

Medici Aesop

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Esopo Medici – Fables d’Ésope – Ésope Médicis – Medici-Äsop.
CODICOLOGY – Codex on parchment, dimensions 200 x 119 mm., 54 + 75 folios.
ORIGIN – Italy (Florence).
DATING – 15th century (c. 1480).
PATRONAGE – The manuscript was commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent (b. 1449, d. 1492), and was intended for his son Piero di Lorenzo de’ Medici called Piero the Fatuous or Piero the Unfortunate (b. 1472, d. 1503). The codex would have been useful to him in his study of Greek, which Piero tackled at an early age under the guidance of Agnolo (Angelo) Ambrogini, known as Poliziano (b. 1454, d. 1494). The commission is confirmed by the Medici family crest on f. 68 (Ms. Spencer 50).
SUBSEQUENT OWNERS – The manuscript remained in the hands of the Medici family probably until the 16th century, and in the following centuries underwent several changes of ownership. Traces of it were lost until the early decades of the 19th century, by which time the Fables – the section we now identify with Ms. Spencer 50 – had been separated from the Vita Aesopi that originally preceded it. At this time the section of the Fables was in the collection of the Rev. Theodore Williams, and later Philip Augustus Hanrott. In 1833 it was acquired by the English collector and antiquarian Sir Thomas Phillipps (b. 1792, d. 1872), remaining in his family’s possession until 1946, when it became part of the New York Public Library.
PRESENT REPOSITORY – The Fables section is currently held at the New York Public Library (Ms. Spencer 50). The Vita Aesopi section, on the other hand, is part of a private collection.
GENRE – Literature, Mythology / Prophecies.
CONTENT – When the manuscript was produced, it consisted of two sections: the Fables of Aesop were in fact preceded by the Vita Aesopi, but over the centuries the two sections were separated. Moreover – of the original 147 fables – only 135 have come down to us complete: 5 are incomplete, while 7 others are completely missing.
SCRIPT – Greek Minuscule.
SCRIBE – The amanuensis Demetrius Damilas, also known as Demetrius da Crete, Demetrius Mediolaneus and Librarius Florentinus (b. ?, d. post-1506), copied the manuscript from a printed version of Aesop’s Fables, published in 1480 by Bonaccorso da Pisa.
DECORATION – 135 miniatures, borders and decorated initials, a portrait of Aesop on c. 1r of Ms. Spencer 50. Each miniature always precedes the relevant text of the fable.
ILLUMINATORS – The decoration of the fables and the layout of the individual scenes was probably entrusted to Francesco di Antonio del Chierico (b. 1433, d. 1484). According to a common practice in the workshops of 15th century Florentine artists, Francesco di Antonio may have also invited miniaturists from outside his atelier to collaborate. In fact, some scholars recognise the intervention of other artists in the miniatures of Ms. Spencer 50: Mariano del Buono (b. 1433, d. 1504), Gherardo di Giovanni di Miniato also known as del Fora (b. 1445, d. 1497), and the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon.
STYLE – Renaissance. The manuscript is considered by many to be the most prestigious codex of fables of the entire Italian Renaissance.
EXTERNAL LINKS – The New York Public Library Digital Collections (digitized Ms. Spencer 50).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

Politian; d’Antonio


Full-size colour reproduction of more portions of the original document that were once an individual document: the facsimile reproduces the entire Ms. Spencer 50 of the NYPL and the full-page miniature that precedes the first fable – 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.
PublisherPatrimonio Ediciones (Valencia, 2011).
Limited edition – Unique and limited edition of 999 numbered copies.
Certificate of authenticity – Each copy is authenticated by a notarial deed attached to the colophon.
Writing support material – Special aged like-parchment paper.
Printing – 8-colour printing, with gold leaf and powder, made with unconventional screening.
Binding – Handmade leather binding, gilded decorations on boards and spine.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, size approx. 25 x 35 cm, 147 pages, colour plates. Essays by Ada Labriola. The commentary volume concludes with a translation of the fables from Greek into Italian.
Slipcase – Issued in a slipcase.
ISBN – 978-84-95061-40-9 (commentary).

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles, Patrimonio Ediciones

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Patrimonio Ediciones