In the Beautiful Humanistic Hand of the Scribe to King Alfonso II of Aragon


(Italy (probably Naples): ca. 1450-60). 222 x 158 mm. (8 3/4 x 6 1/4"). Single column, 24 lines in a handsome humanistic script.

Matted in cream card stock. Gwara Handlist no. 39. For the scribe, see: B. L. Ullman, "The Origin and Development of Humanistic Script," pp. 96-98. IN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE CONDITION.

Remarkably well preserved and written in a very attractive Italian humanist script by Giacomo Curlo, this leaf contains text from Livy's monumental history of ancient Rome. Throughout the Renaissance, Livy (first century B.C.) was revered as the premier source for Roman history, and his account of the rise of Rome from humble beginnings and its triumphs in the Punic Wars was central to historical and political thought. Based on the earlier Caroline minuscule that dominated Western Europe between approximately 800 and 1150, Italian humanist script is elegant and extremely legible, being characterized by neat lettering, few abbreviations, and generous spacing between both letter forms and lines. The present leaf is attributed by A. C. de la Mare to the scribe Giacomo Curlo of Genoa, who is known to have produced at least two manuscripts for Cosimo de Medici, and held the title of "scriptore" to King Alfonso II of Aragon for 12 years (1446-58). The parent manuscript, quite possibly made for the royal library of Alonso II, met an unfortunate fate in the 20th century when it was acquired by biblioclast Otto Ege, who dismembered and dispersed many of the leaves. The remaining fragment, consisting of 240 leaves, was purchased by the Bodleian in 1984. Our leaf (evidently one of those dispersed by Ege) was recently in the collection of Martin Schoyen (their MS 1647). A search on RBH and ABPC finds just one other leaf like ours at auction, which sold at Bloomsbury in 2017 for £1,860 all in.