The manuscript Ms 1102 in the Biblioteca Angelica, is a codex of the fourteenth century containing Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy along with Jacopo Alighieri’s and Bosone da Gubbio’s commentaries entitled Capitolo sulla Commedia, and a fragment of the poem on the history of Alexander the Great written by Gualterus de Castellione.
Relevant for the originality of the iconography representing Dante’s Inferno, the codex is a remarkable example of Bolognese illumination of the fourteenth century.
The Divine Comedy: The Layout of the Manuscript
Each of the canticles of the Inferno is introduced by an illumination illustrating the content of the canticle. Thirty-four miniatures embellish the manuscript displaying the scenes of the Inferno in bright colors over gold ground.
The first scene is organized on two columns while the rest of the miniatures occupy one column only. The manuscript was never completed. Blank spaces were left for the illustrations to be painted in the canticles of the Paradiso and Purgatorio.
Delicate white vegetal motifs typical of the late Medieval Italian manuscripts, ornate the book throughout. Probably one scribe was responsible of writing the entire text in an elegant littera textualis.
The Illuminator of the Divine Comedy
The manuscript 1102 in the Biblioteca Angelica has been little studied and the style and meanings of its illuminations need further attention.
Generally assigned to a scriptorium in Bologna, the identification of the illuminator of the Divine Comedy is still matter of debate. Mario Salmi attributed the work to Simone dei Crocefissi, dating the codex to the first quarter of the fifteenth century.
Additionally, the workshop of the Mezzaratta in Bologna has been suggested as the place of production of the manuscript, but more recently, scholars have proposed the names of Oderisi da Gubbio and Franco Bolognese for the illuminations of this precious manuscript.