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Maestro di Pico and the Illuminated Incunable of De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venice, 1475) in the Monastery of St Domnius at Kraj on the Island of Pašman

Bojan Goja ; Republic of Croatia Ministry of Cutlure - Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Conservation Department in Zadar, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (2 MB) str. 235-250 preuzimanja: 694* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Goja, B. (2014). Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu. Ars Adriatica, (4), 235-250. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Goja, Bojan. "Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu." Ars Adriatica, vol. , br. 4, 2014, str. 235-250. Citirano 11.04.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Goja, Bojan. "Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu." Ars Adriatica , br. 4 (2014): 235-250.
Goja, B. (2014). 'Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu', Ars Adriatica, (4), str. 235-250. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 11.04.2021.)
Goja B. Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu. Ars Adriatica [Internet]. 2014 [pristupljeno 11.04.2021.];(4):235-250. Dostupno na:
B. Goja, "Maestro di Pico i iluminacije u inkunabuli De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venecija, 1475.) u samostanu Sv. Duje u Kraju na Pašmanu", Ars Adriatica, vol., br. 4, str. 235-250, 2014. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 11.04.2021.]

The Franciscan Monastery of St Domnius at Kraj on the island of Pašman houses an incunable edition of Augustine’s The City of God (De Civitate Dei) which was printed in Venice by Nicolas Jenson in 1475. The incunable features beautiful Renaissance multi-coloured illuminations painted in tempera, sepia, ink and water colours while gold foils and gold dust were used on fol. 17 (the page number is not original but was subsequently added in pencil; this folio contains the beginning of Book 1) and a number of other folios. The illumination on fol. 17 consists of two phytomorphic initials, a decorative border and independent figural scenes while a number of other folios are decorated with phytomorphic initials of the littera notabilior type, the height of which corresponds to two lines, painted in red or blue. The top and left margin of the first page of Book 1 are filled with a decorative border terminating in trilobes on each end. The ornamental scheme of the border consists of a band made up of five thin lines which undulates in a spiral and thus forms circles. These are filled with flowers, leaves and berries painted in blue, green and cyclamen purple but also with gold stylized burdock flowers (Lat. Arctium lappa; some scholars call them gold dots, that is, bottoni dorati). The remaining fields are filled with bent scrolls. In the upper left corner of the frame is a goldfinch. The initial I, composed of phytomorphic motifs in blue, green and cyclamen purple and their shades, is painted against a gold background of the rectangular field situated at the beginning of the text column on the left-hand side. Inside the decorative border, placed at the height which corresponds to the centre of the initial, is a medallion with the bust of St Augustine depicted in the open sky with elongated white clouds and no other details. The illusion of the spatial depth was achieved through the use of tonal gradations: the shades of blue are darker at the top and lighter in the lower half of the sky. St Augustine is dressed in a white robe and a red cloak with a black hood. He is wearing a white mitre with a horizontal and perpendicular band highlighted with gold dust. The shadows and folds of his clothes were articulated with black and white lines. His right hand is pointing to the open book which was painted at the height of his chest. The fingers on his right hand are elongated and thin. St Augustine’s gold nimbus was painted as a full circle the left half of which was outlined in white and the right half in black. St Augustine is directing his gentle and sad gaze upwards. His head is slightly bent. His round and bony head is marked by the large round eyes with prominent sclera and dark circles underneath while the arched eyebrows are thinner at their ends. The nose is small and the mouth is turned downwards. The plasticity of the face and its complexion were articulated with white and pink shades. The trimmed dark beard is depicted with short lines in lighter and darker shades. The ornamental frame which fills the top margin corresponds to the one in the left margin but was decorated more modestly because the miniaturist placed the scroll bearing the printer’s name and the scroll identifying the text as belonging to Book 1 at the centre of the frame which left only the beginning and the end of the frame to be decorated. The scroll with the printer’s name is emphasized by a golden burdock flower at the top of the frame and a golden teasel flower (Lat. Dipsacus fullonum) at the bottom. The lower margin features two symmetrical angels, rendered in a somewhat imprecise drawing, who kneel on the ground painted in the shades of green and brown. The physiognomy of the angels is similar to that of St Augustine. Their round heads have small eyes and noses, shaded circles under the eyes and arched eyebrows. The mouths are depicted as thin lines with pronounced ends and are further accentuated by a dot beneath the lower lip. The plasticity of their faces was achieved through the tonal gradation of pink and white. The angels’ hair, ochre in colour and highlighted with gold dust, is thick and short and covers the tops of their heads like a helmet. The outspread wings were painted in dark and light shades of blue. Two wide red scrolls with white highlights emerge symmetrically from behind the angels at their waist height. Wavy tendrils and gold stylized teasel flowers extend from the red scroll. The angels hold a laurel wreath between them. The colour of the circular field inside the wreath is cyclamen purple. The wreath is formed by three rows of leaves which are bound by four regularly spaced ties. The leaves’ edges and tips were painted in light and dark shades of green. Inside the wreath is a Renaissance crest surrounded by thin white wiggly tendrils with sprouting leaves. The shield, in the shape of a horse’s head, is divided horizontally into the dark blue upper half and the red lower half. It features a gold lion with his mouth wide open who is facing right and holding a tree with his front paws. The tree’s pyramidal top is decorated with small dots indicating leaves and fruit. The shield’s right half is outlined in white and the left one in black.
The second text column on the first page of Book 1 is decorated with the painted initial letter G. It consists of phytomorphic motifs in blue, red, yellow and cyclamen purple and their shades. Two small leaves are attached to the initial on its left-hand side. As is the case with the crest, the initial was additionally decorated with elegant white tendrils sprouting leaves and highlighted with gold dust. The background is also gold while the rectangular field around the initial is outlined in a thin black line. Two wavy tendrils and two gold stylized teasel flowers emerge from the corners of the frame on the left-hand side while a green leaf appears at the centre.
Apart from these illuminations and initials on fol. 17, the incunable contains other initials, one for the beginning of each of the remaining twenty one book, and all of them consist of blue, green and cyclamen pink phytomorphic motifs painted against a gold background inside a black rectangular frame. The plasticity of these initials was achieved through tonal gradation and the use of yellow while thin white undulating tendrils with variations in width and highlights in gold dust enriched the decoration. Some sentences in the text were emphasized by numerous initials in red or blue of the littera notabilior type the height of which corresponds to two lines of the text. The illuminations of this incunable edition of the De Civitate Dei belong to north Italian or Venetian Renaissance painting and they demonstrate numerous significant similarities with the works of the well-known Venetian miniaturist whom the scholarly literature identified as Maestro del Plinio di Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Maestro del Plinio di Pico or, more commonly, Maestro di Pico). The attribution of the illuminations in this incunable to Maestro di Pico, who may have been helped by his workshop and assistants especially during the painting of the decorative frame and initials, is based on the figure of St Augustine and the angels who support the crest. Their features display the same typology which characterizes the works of Maestro di Pico. Identical angels appear in the bottom margin of Brunetto Latini’s Il Tesoro (Gerardus de Lisa, Treviso, 1474; Cambridge, Mass., Harvard, Houghton Library, Inc. 6459, c. 7). The figure of St Augustine shows pronounced similarities with the figure of a Dominican monk, set inside the initial O of the littera historiata type, in Nicolaus de Auximo’s Supplementum (Franciscus Renner et Nicolaus de Frankofordia, Venice, 1474; Biblioteca Marciana, Inc. Ven. 494, c.2). Identical angels and putti can be found in the bottom margins of Strabo’s Geographica (Minneapolis, Univ. of Minnesotta Library, Ms. 1460/f St., c.1), and in two copies of Pliny’s Historia Naturalis (Venice, N. Jenson, 1472, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Vèlins 498 and Venice, N. Jenson, 1472, San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, n. 2289). A beautiful comparative example is the Biblia Latina (Franciscus Renner & Nicolaus de Frankfordia, 1475, Dallas, Texas, Southern Methodist University, Bridwell Library) and its first page which has a similar composition to that in the incunable from Kraj. The figure of St Jerome, depicted inside a littera historiata provides a plethora of specific Morellian details which are essential for the attribution of the illuminations in the incunable from Kraj to Maestro di Pico. Striking similarities in the depictions of saints, phytomorphic initials and decorative frames can also be found in two psalters (one in Venice, Biblioteca Querini Stampaglia, Inc. 6, the other in Siena, Biblioteca S. Bernardino del Convento dell’Osservanza) and in the first page of the Psalms in a breviary from Paris (Bibliothèque Ste-Geneviève, OE XV 147 Rés). Similar saints and angels all of which belong to the same figural typology were used to decorate three copies from the Commissioni series made for Doge Agostino Barbarigo (Commissione del doge Agostino Barbarigo a Girolamo Capello, 1487, Venice, Bib. Del Museo Correr, MS Cl. III. 33 (fig. 15); Commissione del doge Agostino Barbarigo a Paolo di Canale, 1489, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Lat. 4729, c.2, and Commissione del doge Agostino Barbarigo a Tommaso Loredano, 1490, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Lat. 4730, c.1). Further parallels can be found in the illuminations of a breviary from Augsburg (c. 1480, Universitätsbibl., Cod. I.2.2o 35) the first page of which has a lettera istoriata with the figure of St Paul whose physiognomy closely resembles that of St Augustine in the incunabule from Kraj, while the bottom margin features centrally placed angels which are identical to those at Kraj. Equally important comparative material is found in three Paduan incunables (Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile) which contain illuminations attributed to Maestro di Pico. The distinctive features of the angels, putti and saints as well as the type of decoration used in the margins of these incunables also demonstrate striking similarities with the illuminations from Kraj. Other examples include Lattanzi’s Opera (Giovanni da Colonia and Johannes Manthen, Venice, 1478; Forc. M. 3.2), Jacopo da Varagine’s Legenda aurea (Gabriele di Pietro, Venice, 1477, with a likely contribution of his workshop; Forc. M. 2.22) and Cipriano’s Opera (Vindelino da Spira, Venice, 1471; Forc. K. 2.12). On the basis of the comparative analyses outlined above and the similarities which have been noted, it can be concluded that the illuminations in the incunable of St Augustine’s De Civitate Dei (Nicolas Jenson, Venice, 1475), housed in the Monastery of St Domnius at Kraj, were painted by the well-known Venetian Renaissance miniaturist Maestro di Pico. Regardless of the possible input of his workshop and assistants during the painting process of the decorative frame and initials, these illuminations help expand the catalogue of Maestro di Pico’s works and represent valuable contribution to the painting in Renaissance Dalmatia.

Ključne riječi
Maestro di Pico; illumination; incunable; De Civitate Dei; Nicolas Jenson; Venice; Monastery of St Domnius; Kraj

Hrčak ID: 130733



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