Census of the Petrarch Manuscripts in the United States


Ms. W. 755

Finely prepared white parch., ff. II (modern parch.) + 71 + II (modern parch.), modern pencil foliation, 210-213 × 135 (125 × 80) mm., the writing extends beyond the ruled space occasionally, 18 verses per page, 110 (+ 1st) 210 310 (+ 1st and 8th) 410 510 (+3rd) 610 (+ 5th and 11th) 76 (- 6th), there are six full-page frontispieces (ff. 1v, 22v, 29v, 46v, 59v, 65v) on slightly heavier parch. folios which have been tipped in later, a strip of parch. has been added at the bottom to lengthen them to the size of the ms., quire signatures A-F are written by the scribe on the inside bottom at the end of the quire in the same ink as the text, the signatures of quire 6 (letter F + arabic numbers 1-4) are evident, drypoint ruled, written by Bartolomeo Sanvito in an Italic script, black ink with some flaking. A ms. exceptionally rich in illumination and decoration: 6 full-page miniatures on the frontispieces, the first two in Paduan style by the Master of the Vatican Homer and the last four by the Florentine Monte di Giovanni del Fora, often representing a pax or Renaissance mount for gems and objects of art, on rocky yellow-green flat shelves and against shredded backgrounds of pale green (ff. 1v, 46v, 59v) or violet (ff. 22v, 29v, 65v).1 The frontispieces face the opening pages of the Triumphi which contain elaborate historiated initials and fullborder decorations: f. 1v, an architectural structure in the form of a pax, of carved representations of cornucopiae, urns, winged lions, garlands, acanthus and sphinxes, shaded in stippled violet, a rectangular ochre picture frame (60 × 100 mm.) stands in the center of the structure with an illumination of the blindfolded Cupid atop a burning chariot drawn by four white horses, surrounded by lovers (identified are Julius Caesar with ensign of letters VVV, Cleopatra, Augustus, Livia, Jupiter) and many smaller figures in the background, in a roundel above is depicted Jupiter in the form of an eagle snatching Ganymede and in the lower roundel are Leda and the swan, the overall coloring is pale ivory, gold, on a stippled violet landscape and sky; on the facing page, f. 2, on a yellow-green rock base, stands a beautiful border decoration of multi-colored trophies, candelabra, torches and leafy sprays, a 6ߚline initial formed of green leafy laurel branches, highlighted in gold, which are being held by the pensive Petrarch (half-length) dressed in a rose tunic and crowned in laurel, at the bottom center two cherubs support a blank shield, the text is superimposed on the border decoration, the rubrics and beginning verses are in Sanvito’s characteristic epigraphic capitals, in gold, blue, red, green and purple; f. 22v, a monumental frontispiece similar to f. 1v, in pale yellow-green, details in gold and bronze, of pilasters acanthus, sphinxes, rams’ heads, eagles, cornucopiae, urns and a cherub head, within a rectangular frame (67 × 98 mm.) there is an illumination of Laura standing near a jasper column, attended by four maidens standing behind her carrying slender spears and green pennants charged with white ermine (symbol of chastity), Laura wards off Cupid’s arrows with the shield of Medusa, all are dressed in white and crowned with red flowers, Cupid hovers over a low-lying landscape, the gulf of Naples to the left and in the background is Sulpicias’ temple and the ‘sovereign city’, in the upper roundel of the structure is Dido stabbing herself and in a small rectangular frame in the lower section is Judith receiving Holofernes’ head; f. 23, a monumental architectural frame supported by two gold sphinxes, a green drape hangs from the monument with golden border depicting the rape of the Sabines, and in the center lower section a woman (Laura?) is seated with one arm around a unicorn’s neck and the other holding its horn, the text is superimposed on the frame often blocking out portions of the frame, the text begins with a 5ߚline faceted gold initial (partially hidden) against which leans the defeated Cupid whose bow and quiver are at his feet, multicolored Sanvito epigraphic capitals for the rubrics and beginning text; f. 29v, an elaborate gem-like frontispiece in gold, azure, blue, deep red, green and rose, a gold oval frame with symmetrical embellishments above and below of gilt bronze acanthus, cornucopiae, palegreen sprays of laurel, two cherubs above and below, two suspended skulls above and below on black grounds, ending above in a face topped by a vase and below a frontal bust of a sphinx from which emanates an acanthus base, in the oval frame two black oxen pull a black draped cart festooned with white skulls and garlands, with atop a bronze coffin upon which stands a winged skeleton holding a scythe, bodies lie below and around the cart, at far right an old man (Petrarch?) speaks with an old woman, on a bleak desolate background; f. 30, a full-border monumental structure in the form of a Renaissance doorway, the side red and the top blue panels are decorated with gilt-bronze scrolls, acanthus capitals, molding, masks, and ornaments, the two pedestals are carved in classical reliefs, below between the pedestals is a depiction of Laura on her deathbed, surrounded by seven maidens dressed in white, gold, lavender, green and rose, and a countryside in the background, the text begins with a 6ߚline faceted gold initial filled with birds, skulls and a cherub seated on a swag holding a skull, against a drab partially rubbed background, multicolored Sanvito epigraphic capitals; f. 46v, a pax shaped marble sculpted frame similar to that of f. 1v, supported by two winged feet, and on top sides are two cherubs holding burning torches, in the bottom roundel supported by two grotesque figures half human and half serpent, is a seated Athena and in the top roundel a galloping horseman, in the central gold picture frame (70 × 100 mm.) is a cart pulled by two gray elephants (facing forward towards reader), atop the cart is a woman clad in armor holding a sword, a throng of people on horseback and afoot surround the cart, with a background of Rome and countryside; f. 47, a fullborder montage of multi-colored trophies, urns, gems, acanthus and laurel sprays, at bottom a gold cameo flanked by two cherubs riding blue dolphins, depicting the flaying of Marsyas by Apollo, on the top margin is a small cameo of a man’s face in profile (Silenus?), the text begins with a 6ߚline faceted gold initial on a deep blue ground, three thin gold fillets form the frame, inhabited by the profile busts of Athena and Hercules, multi-colored Sanvito epigraphic capitals; f. 59v, a pax-shaped gold and shredded violet frontispiece of acanthus, dolphins, urns, lion heads, cornucopiae and flowers, in the roundel below is a young winged Father Time holding an hour-glass, and in the roundel above is Father Time before the ruins of a city, within the central gold picture frame (65 × 100 mm.) is a beautiful illumination of the winged Father Time atop a chariot pulled by two stags, a partially obliterated hour-glass is at the front of the chariot, a procession accompanies passing by a triumphal arch, a background of city and countryside; f. 60, a full-border decoration similar to f. 47, with at top center a clock-face and on the bottom a gold oval cameo of the triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, the text begins with a 6ߚline faceted gold initial with a background of rolling hills and sun on the horizon, on a deep blue rectangular frame with three gold fillets and cross-hatching, with multi-colored Sanvito epigraphic capitals; f. 65v, a frontispiece of an intricately carved gold frame (94 × 100 mm.) supported from below by two flowing violet cherubs who end in tails of symmetrical acanthus, decorated below and on sides with acanthus, and above are reliefs of two sphinxes facing a central urn and above them are two blue cornucopiae, the illumination within the central frame is an hieratic vision of the Trinity in a golden glory, cherubims, clouds, symbols of the evangelists, in rich hues of blue, white and gold; f. 66, a trophy montage frame similar to f. 47, in the roundel above is the haloed figure of Christ holding an open book and below the transfiguration (Christ flanked by two men), the text begins with a 6ߚline faceted gold initial on a frame similar to f. 47, inhabited by Christ holding a crystal orb, against a shaded carmine ground, multicolored Sanvito epigraphic capitals. The capitoli of the Triumphi begin with plain 2ߚline gold initials; rubrics are in gold capitals. Italian binding of ca. 1780-90, brown calf, gold tooled with neo-classical and late-rococo motifs; in a previous binding the six frontispieces may have been missing as is suggested in the labelling on the spine which reads "Petrar[chae] Triump[hi] codex mss. cum tabul[is] [et] clodi[s]". f. 1, blank.
ff. 2-70, Petrarch, Triumphi , title "Francisci Petrarcae poetae clarissimi triumphi de amore, Triumphus I", inc. (Tr. cup. 1) "Nel tempo che rinova i miei sospiri... V’ è (sic) Giove catenato innanzi al carro"; f. 6v, (Tr. cup. III) "Amoris capitulum II, Era sì pien il cor di maraviglie ... E qual è il mel temprato con l’assentio"; f. 12, (Tr. cup. II) "Amoris capitulum III, Stancho già di mirar, non satio anchora ... E d’un pomo beffata al fin Cidippe"; f. 17, (Tr. cup. IV) "Amoris capitulum IIII, Poscia che mia fortuna in forza altrui ... Che’l pie’ va innanzi e l’occhio torna a dietro"; f. 22, blank; f. 23 (Tr. pud.) "Pudiciciae triumphus secundus, Quando ad un giogo et in un tempo quivi ... Fra quali vidi Hyppolyto e Ioseppe"; ff. 28v-29, blank; f. 30, (fragm. Tr. mort.) "Mortis triumphus III, Quanti già nella età matura et acra ... Morte bella parea nel suo bel viso"; f. 35v, (Tr. mort. II) "Mortis capitulum II, La nocte che seguì l’horribil caso ... Tu starai in terra senza me gran tempo"; f. 40v, (fragm. Tr. fam. I) "Mortis capitulum III, Nel cor pien d’amarissima dolceza ... Poi alla fin Artù re vidi e Carlo"; ff. 45v-46, blank; f. 47, (Tr. fam. I) "Famae triumphus IIII, Da poi che morte triumphò nel volto ... Sì come advien a chi virtù relinque"; f. 50v, (Tr. fam. II) "Famae capitulum II, Pien d’infinita et nobil maraviglia ... Magnanimo gentil constante e largo"; f. 55, (Tr. fam. III) "Famae capitulum III, Io non sapea da tal vista levarmi ... Qui lascio e più di lor non dico avante"; f. 59, blank; f. 60, (Tr. temp.) "Temporis triumphus V, Ne l’aureo albergo con l’aurora innanzi ... Così el tempo triompha i nomi e’l mondo"; ff. 64v-65, blank; f. 66, (Tr. et.) "Divinitatis triumphus VI, Da poi che sotto il ciel cosa non vidi ...", expl. "... Hor che fia dunque a rivederla in cielo. Finis". (Characteristic Sanvito Greek letters in margin written in red ink which isolate aphoristic verses in the Triumphi).
ff. 70v-71v, blank.
2nd. f.: (f. 3) di color
Written by Bartolomeo Sanvito, in Rome, Italy, s. XV2 (ca. 1477-80),2 and illuminated by the Master of the Vatican Homer and by Monte di Giovanni del Fora.
Owned by Sir George Holford, his sale, London at Sotheby, 29 July 1929, lot. 6, pls. II, III; acquired from H. Harvey Frost (his ownership paper slip on the front pastedown), London, through Maggs, 4 Oct. 1955. The number ‘608’ is written in pencil on the first front flyleaf recto.
Ullman, no. 6; De Ricci, Suppl., p. 199, no. 571; Jasenas, p. 33, no. 19, pl. 14 (of f. 2) and color plate of f. 59v on frontispiece. [S. T. Cockerell], Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts (London, 1908), no. 194, pl. 128; Quaritch, A Cat. of Illuminated and Other Manuscripts (London, 1931), 98-99; F.B. Adams, Jr., Pierpont Morgan Library, The Eighth Report to the Fellows (New York, 1958), 19-20; J. Wardrop, The Script of Humanism (Oxford, 1963), 32, 51, pl. 35; W. Wixom, Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, LI, 3 (1964), 56-8; Philippe Verdier, "Nielles de la Renaissance italienne à Walters Art Gallery", Arte in Europa ... in onore di Edoardo Arslan (1966), p. 469, footnote 12, figs. 303-4; Alexander and de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts, 108 (including a list of other mss. copied by Sanvito); following the article of D. Miner, T. Drayman discusses the restoration of the manuscript in "The conservation of a Petrarch Manuscript", The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, XXXII (1969), 119-23. Dutschke, Census, no. 8, pp. 49-55.

1. I am indebted to Dorothy Miner for the description of the illumination in the ms.; see her article, "Since De Ricci - Western Illuminated Manuscripts Acquired since 1934: A Report in Two Parts", Part 11, Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, XXXII (1969), 99-118, with plates of major illumination.
2. See Alexander and de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts, p. 108.

Alexander and de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts
Alexander, J.J.G. and de la Mare, A.C. The Italian manuscripts in the Library of Major J.R. Abbey. London, 1969.
De Ricci, Suppl.
Supplement of De Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, originated by C.U. Faye and continued by W.H. Bond. New York, 1962.
Dutschke, Census
Dutschke, D. Census of Petrarch Manuscripts in the United States, Padova, 1986.
Jasenas, M. Petrarch in America: A Survey of Petrarch Manuscripts. New York and Washington, D. C., 1974.
Ullman, B. L. Petrarch Manuscripts in the United States (Censimento dei codici petrarcheschi, no. 1). Padova, 1964 (also in Italia medioevale e umanistica, v [1962], 443-475).

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