Friday, December 20, 2013

Something Pretty for the Holiday

A floriated initial G in blue, red, and yellow.Among our many medieval manuscripts is this beautiful leaf from a 16th century Italian antiphonal celebrating the Christmas Day mass. This floriated initial G leads into one of the most famous lines of Christian choral music: "Gloria in excelsis Deo."
A page from a medieval antiphonal including the floriated "G."
We hope it brightens your holiday season.

We are closed through January 1st, but after that you can see the manuscript in person by asking for MS 002091.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Filling in Vasari

A blank medallion frame.When Giorgio Vasari set out to illustrate his Le vite de' piv eccellenti pittori, scvltori, e architettor (Fiorenza: Appresso i Giunti, 1568) he aimed for authenticity in his depiction of each of the artists represented. But there were a handful for whom Vasari had no reliable likeness to draw on.  He placed blank medallion frames at the heads of each of their entries. Was he giving a future reader an opportunity to complete his work once a reliable image had been found? Or, by acknowledging his own ignorance, were the blanks there to bolster the integrity of the rest of his work?

In our copy, a 16th or 17th century artist took advantage of the several of Vasari's blanks and has provided beautiful pen and ink sketches to "finish" the work. This copy was owned by an 17th centry art historian, so perhaps he had access to likenesses Vasari did not and commissioned an artist to fill in the blanks.

A medallion frame containing a pen sketch of a bearded man.A medallion frame containing a pen sketch of an older man in a hat.

Come see our improved Vasari by asking for Rare N6922.V2 1568.