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ArtCodex atelier del codice miniato

The Riccardian Virgil

Ms. Ricc. 492 (1460)
Riccardian Library, Florence, Italy
biblioteca Riccardiana Firenze


Presentazione video del volume

A precious illuminated manuscript: From the three great works of Vergilius Publius Maro (The Bucolics – Georgics – Aeneid), the manuscript was realized by the famous illuminator Apollonio di Giovanni for the Medicean court.
A Renaissance codex of exclusive elegance, it owes its charm to the setting of Enea’s trip in the splendor of the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Admiring the very accurate illuminations, the eye becomes lost in the infinite minuteness of the places of Alberti and Brunelleschi, in an original and captivating union of what is classical and what is of the Renaissance.
Why the Riccardian Virgil? An incredible direct document of Renaissance Florence, rich with references to the architecture, clothing, arms, and agricultural instruments of the time. A compelling political plot is behind the scenes of the production of this work. Its pages offer a view of an actual cross section of the artisan workshops, with their illumination-production stages of the complete texts of Virgil’s Georgics, of the Eclogues (or Bucolics), and of the Aeneid. Realized in the workshop of the famous Apollonio di Giovanni, where the Renaissance art of illumination reaches the peak of its mastery.
An enigmatic codex: The events concerning the Riccardian Virgil have always captured the attention of scholars due to the enigmas that are intertwined in its pages. The fulcrum of the mystery regards the person who commissioned the work and who would then receive it: only lately, thanks to the very recent discoveries announced during a Congress held in Florence, has there been a clarification of the political intrigues that are behind this famous work, thus opening new horizons of study regarding one of the most fascinating creations of the Renaissance.
The enigma of the recipient: The curly-haired boy at the center of the opening miniature represents the first great mystery: perhaps a young Lorenzo de’ Medici to whom the great work had been dedicated?
Only recently have studies discovered the real recipient of the codex and the deep meaning of this exceptional Florentine production.
The violence and the black eagle: In the description of the conquest of Troy, the Greeks are represented with obsolete clothing and arms; the scenes of war are pervaded by a crude violence not in conformity with the Virgilian text; lastly, a disturbing banner with a Black Eagle on a yellow background appears continually to reinforce a precise message of the person who commissioned the work. The dress and the architecture represented are Florentine: one recognizes more than once the Palazzo Medici Riccardi of Via Larga.
The sudden interruption: Due to an unexpected tragic event, the production of the codex was interrupted. Only rarely in history is it possible for someone to penetrate the secrets of the preparation of a work as in this case. What caused the recipient to interrupt the production of this huge work, leaving many miniatures incomplete?

Characteristics of the facsimile

  • Integral reproduction on cartaPergamena of the Codex Ricc. 492 conserved in the Riccardian Library of Florence
  • Volume format: 30.5 x 20 cm in conformity with the original
  • 512 pages with leather cover, complete with cord frames blindstamped on the plates
  • Binding done entirely by hand, with respect for the trimming of the pages and the colors of the headband
  • Slipcase in select wood
  • Printing of 999 numbered and certified copies, of which 222 personalized in the “Collectio Maior” series commentary of 172 pages in Italian edited by the Study Committee led by the Director of the Riccardian Library, dott.ssa Giovanna Lazzi

Binding and cover

The process of binding the codices is realized by adopting the customs of the ancient artisan binderies. The work processes, conducted in handicraft workshops that still preserve the antique manual press, correspond to the hand sewing of the headband and leaves, with an absolute respect for the trimming of the manuscript pages. Lastly, the cover is reproduced in facsimile with a rigorous respect for all the characteristics of the original: each process is carried out by hand, while respecting the foliation of the codex and utilizing the materials of the period.

The cartaPergamena®

The type of parchmented paper adopted, whose peculiarity guarantees that each single sheet is equal to the original, is produced by a trusted paper mill: the cartaPergamena®, following an “ageing” treatment, recreates the same effect of movement that the passing of time has brought about on the original. The color of the parchment is then faithfully reproduced in the printing stage: each sign of the time - such as folds, spots, or transparencies - is reproposed exactly, contributing to enhance the codex with the same sensation of antiquity that characterizes the medieval manuscript.