The Corsini Codex is part of a group of twenty-seven illustrated commentaries on the Book of Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana, a monk who lived in the Kingdom of Asturias, Spain, until ca. 800. This codex dates back to the 12th century and serves as a prominent record of the distinctive Mozarabic style.
For more information on the Beatus model, read our blog article by Amy R. Miller (PhD, Medieval Art History, University of Toronto).
An unusual format for an unusual book
It is a copy with very peculiar features that make it radically different from all of those which are preserved nowadays. First, it has a much smaller size, almost comparable to a Book of Hours. Curiously, this unusual format will stamp a very special character on its writing and miniatures. Its text will collect in full this nucleus of all the Beatos which are comments by the monk of Liébana to the Saint John’s Book of Revelations. This is moreover done with partly Visigoth, partly Caroline lettering with Gothic elements, but very elaborate, of great care and beauty, which make it possible that despite its size, the content is recreated. It is not abundant in images, since it suffered mutilation causing a loss of great part of them, but the eight currently preserved are enough to make it an essential piece for better tracing and so understanding of the circulation and artistic evolution of such an important series of codices.
The beauty of the Mozarabic art
As regards to Iconography, there are some remaining Mozarabic traces that are typical in Beatos which, however, are found here in one of its more noticeable expressions. It is true that, as well as this other beautiful copy of the Burgo de Osma with which it decisively relates to, Romanic is already announced. There is still much mystery surrounding the author, recipient and date of execution, although its adscription to the important Monasterio de Sahagún is almost certain. Apparently it belonged to the Count Duke of Olivares who, in times of Philip IV, requisitioned several precious codices from churches and monasteries.
A very important tome for very important men
Afterwards, Cardinal Acquaviva might have acquired it on the occasion of the coronation of Philip V in 1701, when he happened to be in Spain as a papal nuncio. Finally, when Cardinal Acquaviva died, in 1723, the piece was handed down to Cardinal Corsini. Cardinal Corsini takes us to a short brushstroke about L’Academia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana, in which important Library our precious codex is. The Accademia dei Lincei, founded in 1603, was the first science academy in Italy and, we could also say, that the seat of the incipient scientific revolution was approaching. By his eloquence it is worth mentioning here the first motto of the founder of the Accademia, Federico Cesi, for he contributes at the same time with a still valid statement of intent: Minima cura si maxima vis, "Take care of little things if you want to obtain the greatest results".
19th century brown leather
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex": Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana facsimile edition, published by Siloé, arte y bibliofilia, 2010Request Info / Price