London, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 36

Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon Facsimile Edition

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The Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragona is one of the most beautiful Renaissance manuscripts from central Italy. The codex was written and illuminated in the mid-15th century in Siena and features over 100 superbly made illuminated scenes and 3 historiated large initials. With its shimmering golden illumination and its contrast with dark colors, it is to be considered an outstanding work of art.

Written in Italian between 1444 and 1450, and containing a copy of Dante’s Divina Commedia, the manuscript – also known as the Commedia Yates Thompson – represents a rarity as it fully illustrates all three parts of the Divine Comedy.

Contrasting Atmospheres of the Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragona

It seems certain that the iconographic apparatus is the work of two artists – possibly both from Siena – one being the Master of the Commedia Yates Thompson, whom some have identified with an artist known as il Vecchietta and whose work would be all the initials and the Hell and Purgatory scenes, and the other being Giovanni di Paolo, author of the representation of the Paradise.

The two artists exhibit different atmospheres, for, while Lorenzo di Pietro represents a dark and dramatic world, Giovanni di Paolo illustrates heavenly landscapes featuring magnificent blue skies, all framing the main characters: Dante and Beatrice.

Text and Decorative Details

Framing the landscapes and its figures are gold frames which shed even more light on the bas de page miniatures depicting the corresponding text, clearly arranged in a single column.

Evidence of the artistic skill of the Master of the Commedia Yates Thompson are the 3 large historiated initials, one per section, developing foliated extensions in gold, pink, red, and blue into the margins.

Alfonso of Aragona: King and Bibliophile

It is certain that the commissioner of the work was Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, also known as “il Magnanimo” who created an impressive cultural environment among his court in Naples, surrounding himself of scholars and humanists.

Wanting to assert his kingdom as one of the major states in Italy, he extended this approach to the whole of the city of Naples, transforming it into a venue for the arts and culture in general. One of his most valuable aids was Guiniforte Bargigi, an erudite scholar, thanks to whom the king extended his already extensive collections to include Italian, Latin, and Greek works.

Beautiful Example of Gothica Textura Rotunda

The Divine Comedy of Afonso of Aragona exhibits an elegant example of Gothica textura rotunda. The feet of the minims are curved upwards, furthermore, typical of the script are two-shaped r and d, and the use of abbreviations and ligatures.

Binding description

The binding of the manuscript is not the original one, the current one featuring tooled brown leather from the 19th century. 

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon": La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona facsimile edition, published by Franco Cosimo Panini Editore, 2006

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La Divina Commedia di Alfonso d'Aragona

Modena: Franco Cosimo Panini Editore, 2006

  • Commentary (Italian) by Azzetta, L.; Bollati, M.; Kidd, P.; Petoletti, M.; Toscano, G.
  • Limited Edition: 750 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Binding

Pure-silk velvet adorned with gilded silver and enamed work.

Used and new from

€ 7,566

approx US$ 8,471


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