Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 85. Tiraboschi, Carmina, manuscript on vellum, [Padua, c. 1471],  the earliest surviving plaquette binding.

Tiraboschi, Carmina, manuscript on vellum, [Padua, c. 1471], the earliest surviving plaquette binding

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October 11, 11:51 PM GMT


280,000 - 350,000 USD

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Tiraboschi, Jacopo [Manuscript, f. 1 headed:] Ad Nicolaum Lipomanum patricium Venetum Iacobi Tirobusci Lipomane libell[us] foeliciter incipit … Magna quibus curae est fusis ornare capillis … [Explicit, f. 50:] Ad Nicolaum Lipomanum Patricium Venetum Iacobi Tirobusci Bergo[mensis] Lipomanae liber Feliciter explicit. [Padua, ca. 1480]

The Codex Lippomano is a collection of about one hundred Latin epigrams and other verses composed by Jacopo Tiraboschi, in which the first and last poems are addressed to the author’s classmate, Niccolò Lippomano, three others to Niccolò’s brothers Girolamo and Vettore, one to his paternal grandmother (Chiara Tron), and one to a more distant ancestor, the humanist Marco Lippomano (d. 1447). The poems are written on fifty leaves of vellum and are sumptuously bound in reddish-brown goatskin, tooled in gold, with portions brightened with blue paint, and the filigree border cut away to reveal green silk fabric underneath. In the center of each cover is an oval profile portrait of Antinous (?), a gesso cast taken from a plaquette, set in a socket with a dotted gilt ground powdered by red glass beads. Although much of the filigree has become detached and is missing, and few of the glass beads still adhere, it remains one of the most extraordinary bindings of the fifteenth century, an innovative combination of exotic oriental (Mamluk) and classical elements. Anthony Hobson attributed the binding to Felice Feliciano, whose technique combined eastern and classical motifs, and heralded it as the earliest surviving binding with plaquette ornament. The binding, Hobson observed, “marks the high point of Feliciano’s conception of the humanistic binding: an antique gem set off by the rich texture of a luxurious oriental surround” (Humanists and Bookbinders, p. 48).

The manuscript was a gift from Tiraboschi to Lippomano, intended to preserve the memories of persons they had encountered—fellow students, teachers, friends, and relatives—during their study at Padua university. Jacopo di Carlo Tiraboschi was descended from a cultivated, but impoverished family of Bergamo. (In the verses “consolatur Luciam matrem suam in tribus natorum exequiis,” Jacopo names his mother, and three deceased brothers: the poet Giovanni, the lawyer Rafaello, and Danielle.) He is first recorded in the registers of Padua university on 14 January 1469, as a witness to the doctoral examination of a fellow-citizen, Ambrosio de la Zuncha, identified as “mag. Iacobus Tirabuscus art. schol.” (meaning that Jacopo had already obtained somewhere a magister degree, and was now studying in the Universitas Artistarum). The following year he completed reading a manuscript of Martialis, inscribing it “Jacobus Tirabuschus Bergomensis Artium scolaris MDCCCCLXX die decimo nono octobris complevit Hunc Marcialem” (Lawrence, University of Kansas, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Ms D2). He attended similar examinations in 1471, 1472, 1473, 1476, and lastly on 6 June 1477, the doctoral defense of Bernardinus de Montesaurus of Verona, when he is identified as a student of arts and medicine. (In one of the poems in this collection, Jacopo asks Apollo’s permission to transfer from studying arts to medicine.) Niccolò Lippomano was one of four other student witnesses present at this ceremony.

There is no record that Jacopo stood any exams or received a degree; it may be that he left Padua during the academic year 1477–1478, when two cousins, the brothers Corradino and Giovanni Matteo di Simone Tiraboschi, became embroiled in controversy after Giovanni Matteo found himself unable to pay his doctoral fees (he was threatened with imprisonment, and Corradino with banishment from the university for a year). At an uncertain, later date, Jacopo wrote “Carmen saphicum Iacobi Tirabuschi de laudibus bergomensium contra externos” (Bergamo, Biblioteca Civica “A. Mai”, MAB 24 [Psi I 30]; the binding is illustrated by De Marinis, no. 228).

Niccolò di Tommaso Lippomano is recorded in the university registers as a student in the Universitas Artistarum between 5 October 1476 and 17 October 1477, identified on the last date as a doctor in arts (possibly granted to him by virtue of his status). Niccolò was descended from an illustrious and powerful Venetian patrician family. His grandmother, Chiara, was the sister of Nicolò Tron, doge from 1471–1473; his father, Tommaso (d. 1489), became a wealthy banker; his brother, Girolamo (1460–1527), a lawyer, then banker; and his brother, Vettore, Venetian ambassador in Rome. Jacopo Tiraboschi addresses poems to each of them. Niccolò obtained a canonicate in Padua, became in 1490 a protonotario apostolico, aspired in 1497 to the patriarchate of Aquileia (the diocese was entrusted instead to Domenico Grimani), settled in 1512 for the bishopric of Bergamo, resigned that office in 1516 (to a nephew), renounced the canonship of Padua in 1517, and died in Rome the same year.

Anthony Hobson believed that the manuscript was written “in or soon after 1471”; however, many of Jacopo’s poems are addressed to students who first arrived in Padua during Niccolò’s period of study, and a date of ca. 1478–1480 is more probable. We note poems addressed to the Venetian patrician, diplomat, and humanist, Girolamo Donato (1457–1511), recorded at the university from 1476–1479; the Dalmatian lawyer, humanist, and poet, Alvise (Luigi) Cippico (1456–1504), later a member of the humanist circle of Raffaele Regio da Bergamo, documented there 1478–1479; Benedictus Gislanda (Gislandis), of Bergamo, documented 1477–1479; Santorus Voltis, of Sicily, documented 1477–1485; the Venetian patrician, Sebastiano Priuli (d. 1502), who became a disciple of Pomponio Leto, referendarius of Innocent VIII, and Archbishop of Nicosia, documented there 1477–1485; Joannes Uri, of Cyprus, sometime Vicerector of the Universitas Artistarum, documented 1465–1482; Antonius de Vitalis, Pyranensis, documented 1474–1483; and Felice Santosofia, long-standing Consigliere del Collegio dei medici.

Several poems are addressed to sons of Venetian patrician families: Francesco Foscari, Pietro and Girolamo Loredano; these men cannot be traced in the university registers, and Jacopo presumably met them elsewhere. His poems suggest intimacy, as for example two about a parrot belonging to Francesco Foscari, two addressed to anonymous ladies (“Ad Chrisiam amicam Francisci Foscari” and “Ad Chriniam amicam”), and another to Priapus. Two poems addressed to “Andream Feracanum”, who is recorded at the university only in 1485, and another, in which Jacopo states that he had abandoned the practice of medicine for poetry, hint of a completion date even later than 1480. In any case, the manuscript reveals a beguiling, inter-generational network of students, teachers, and friends, centered in Padua in the late 1470s.

The evidence marshalled by Hobson in 1989 for attributing this (and eight other bindings) to the scribe and antiquarian, Felice Feliciano (1433–ca 1479), is not strong; however, no alternative name has yet been proposed. Feliciano was a friend of the Mantuan medallist Cristofano di Geremia and Hobson speculated that the oval plaquette—the subject is variously identified as Antinous, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Antiochus V Eupator, and Mithradates VI Eupator—was executed by him, inspired by a gem belonging to Francesco Gonzaga. The model is now assumed to be a cameo once in Lorenzo de Medici’s collection, which was copied ca. 1475–1480 by Attavante degli Attavanti for a manuscript of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia (Paris, BnF, Lat. 8834). The design occurs in both oval and round versions, and Hobson records its use on five more bindings, made at Padua, Rome, and Naples, the last ca. 1535.

Hobson rightly stressed the role played by the owners of humanistic bindings in developing and perpetuating the fashion, but so little is known about Jacopo Tiraboschi and Niccolò Lippomano that it is impossible to say whether either contributed to this binding. Two more manuscripts bearing the same ownership inscription “Nicolai Lipomani et amicorum” can be traced; neither is now in an exceptional binding:

§ Boethius, Logica cum notis passim (manuscript, thirteenth century, on vellum). Inscription, “Nicolai Lipomani et amicorum” (fol. 221v, in red). Gian Vincenzo Pinelli (1535–1601), bought from his heirs in Naples 1609 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, for: Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, R 55 sup.

See Adolfo Rivolta, Catalogo dei codici Pinelliani dell’Ambrosiana (Milan 1933), p.71; Codices Boethiani: A Conspectus of Manuscripts of the Works of Boethius, III: Italy and the Vatican City (London & Turin, 2001), no. 208 (“Binding: s. xv, dry-tooled red leather with beechwood boards, strap and clasp on fore-edge”).

§ Franciscus Martini, Compendium conceptionis Virginis Mariae Dei genitricis … [f. 94 verso:] Scriptum parisius in domo carmelitarum Anno domini M.CCCCLXXX. Mense decembri die. 19. hora vero decima post prandium: precibus domini Nicolai Lipomani Veneti devictus … Ego frater petrus Varilius Siculus dum eram studens parisius scripsi (Paris 1482). Inscription, “Nicolai Lipomani et amicorum” (fol. 1v). Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 11557.

See Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Codices Vaticani Latini 11414–11709 (Rome 1959), pp. 298–299.

At the time of his death in 1517, Niccolò Lippomano was living in Rome, where his younger brother, Girolamo, had fled after the failure of the Lippomano bank. Girolamo perhaps took possession of Niccolò’s library. He and his son Pietro were both in Rome at the time of the Sack: Pietro found safety in Castel Sant’Angelo, but Girolamo was captured, and before he could be ransomed, he died of the plague, 1 June 1527. A third volume bearing Niccolò’s “et amicorum” inscription was listed in 1528 among books that had been hidden in a trunk in Castel Sant’Angelo, and thereby escaped destruction during the Sack of Rome (the list was sent by Pier Andrea Ripanti to Angelo Colocci, 13 March 1528, and is transcribed by Bernardi, “Una lettera inedita dal Sacco di Roma: qualche novità su Colocci,” in Critica del testo 20 [2017], pp. 71–103). That trunk possibly contained the remains of Niccolò Lippomano’s library.

The Codex Lippomano is next located in the library of the Capilupi family of Mantua, entered in the catalogue published in 1797 by the Spanish Jesuit Juan Andrés. In 1888, a copy was written at the request (and cost) of Giovanni Battista Camozzi Vertova (1818–1906) of Bergamo (now Bergamo, Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, MMB 717; see Kristeller, V, pp. 482–483). About twenty years later, the Brooker manuscript entered the market, when Giulio, marchese Capilupi (1847–1918) dispersed a portion of the library and archives.

Manuscript (165 x 114 mm), on vellum. collation: [A–E10] 50 leaves, 21 lines to the page, in an upright humanistic hand, alternating red and blue initials. Illumination on f. 1: an architectural plinth, with medallion head of a man facing left in center; two putti on the plinth, and two coats of arms (left: Lippomano; right: illegible). (First leaf dampstained affecting and obscuring the illumination, trifling soiling.)

binding: Paduan light reddish-brown goatskin over wooden boards (172 x 119 mm), ca. 1479–1481, possibly by Felice Feliciano, with filigree borders, corners and centerpiece, the ground of the center and borders are painted blue, but the corners are laid down on a green silk ground, a central profile portrait of Antinous (?) with long flowing hair, taken from a plaquette, spine with 3 full bands, vellum endleaves, plain edges, with title lettered on bottom edge. (Worn with loss, including spine covering, some wormholes.) Blue morocco folding-case gilt, by Laurenchet. 

provenance: Niccolò Lippomano (d. 1517; inscription in red ink “Nicolai Lipomani et amicorum” on verso of first endleaf) — Biblioteca Marchesi Capilupi, Villa di Suzzara (Mantua) — Libreria antiquaria T. De Marinis & C., Florence (Catalogue 7: Manuscrits et livres rares [1907], item 25 & Pl. IIIb) — Eugénie (“Jenny”) Finaly (née Ellenberger) (1850–1938; inserted exlibris of her uncle, Baron Horace de Landau [1824–1903; his exlibris no. 59290]), by descent to — her daughter, Julie Florence de Cossette (née Finaly) (1877–1968; m. 1903 Henri Raoul Jean Eugène Vicomte de Cossette, 1876–1933), by descent to — their son, Pierre Raoul Ghislain Horace, Vicomte de Cossette (1914–1980) — Christian Galantaris, Paris — Bernard Malle (1929–2008; penciled initials “B M” in circle on lower pastedown). acquisition: Purchased from Librairie Thomas-Scheler, Paris, 2010. 

references: Andrés, Catalogo de’ codici manoscritti della famiglia Capilupi di Mantova (Mantua, 1797), p. 145 no. 32; Mostra storica della legatura artistica in Palazzo Pitti (Florence, 1922), no. 194; Gottlieb, “Venezianer Einbände des XV. Jahrhunderts nach persischen Mustern,” in Kunst und Kunsthandwerk 16 (1913), pp. 153–176 & Fig. 3; Marinis, La Legatura artistica in Italia nei secoli XV e XVI (Florence, 1960), no. 1656 & Pl. 304; Kristeller, Iter Italicum, III (London & Leiden, 1987), pp. 339–340 (designated Codex Landau Finaly 59290); A. Hobson, Humanists and Bookbinders: The Origins and Diffusion of the Humanistic Bookbinding, 1459–1559 (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 45–48 & Frontispiece, Fig. 41, & p. 215 (Census of historiated Plaquette and Medallion bindings of the Renaissance, no. 1a), & p. 255 (Appendix 2: Bindings attributed to Felice Feliciano, no. 7), & pp. 256–257 (Appendix 3: The Codex Lippomano: Jacopo Tiraboschi, Carmina); Macchi & Macchi, Atlante della legatura italiana: Il Rinascimento (XV–XVI secolo) (Milan, 2007), pp. 110–111, Tav. 38. For details and dates of Jacopo and his circle at university, see Forin, Acta graduum academicorum Gymnasii Patavini: ab anno 1471 ad annum 1500 (Padua, 2001), passim.