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The pride of a great king


The Divine Comedy of Alfonso of Aragon

Londra, British Library, Ms. Yates Thompson 36

This splendid Divina Commedia manuscript includes more than 100 illumination works, with illuminated initials opening each part. The calligraphy and illumination work are Tuscan, dating back to approximately the mid-fifteenth century. The work was commissioned by a great patron –the King of Naples, Alfonso of Aragon, known as "il Magnanimo". An important quality of this manuscript consists in its being one of the few that fully illustrate all three parts of the Divine Comedy.

Two master illuminators

The marvellous illumination work is by two artists, both from Siena – Lorenzo di Pietro, known as il Vecchietta (responsible for all the initials and the Inferno and Purgatory scenes, produced between 1442 and 1450), and Giovanni di Paolo, who, in his representation of Paradise, conveys a sense of the fantastic and unreal, reflecting his own dreamily pensive spiritual being.

Conflicting atmospheres

In the 115 illuminated scenes at the foot of the pages we see that the two artists’ approaches are markedly different. While il Vecchietta’s is a world of drama and sudden apparitions of light, Giovanni di Paolo’s is one of clear blue skies and stunningly beautiful landscapes, inspired by the Tuscan countryside. We also note the unifying presence of the two figures of Dante and Beatrice in most of the latter’s illuminations.

The brightness of gold

Finely executed work in gold frames accompanies these extraordinarily evocative illuminations. This is most evident in the Paradise scenes, in which the frames seem to shed extra light upon the episodes recounted. Also noteworthy is the elegance of the script, arranged in a single column and accompanied by initials. This work can be easily read, and an appreciation of the poem itself enhances our enjoyment of the images.


As an enlightened patron of the arts and humanist of considerable sensitivity – and in keeping with his desire to have his kingdom assert itself as one of the major States of Italy – Alfonso of Aragon transformed Naples into a lively venue for the arts and culture in general. As a refined bibliophile, who treasured manuscripts, he decided, following his extensive collecting activities in Spain, to enrich his library in Naples with Italian, Latin and Greek works. To this end, he procured valuable illuminated codices with aid of an erudite scholar, Guiniforte Bargigi.

The Commentary

The work is accompanied by a book with commentary, edited by Milvia Bollati, with writings by Luca Azzetta, Milvia Bollati, Peter Kidd, Marco Petoletti and Gennaro Toscano.

+ Show the index of Commentary

La Divina Commedia - Commentario al codice

Di Alfonso d’Aragona Re di Napoli

Commento a cura di Milvia Bollati


Il volume nasce a corredo dell’edizione in facsimile di un eccezionale manoscritto della Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri, riccamente decorato con oltre 100 splendide miniature e con iniziali istoriate poste in apertura di ogni cantica. L’opera fu realizzata in Toscana, intorno alla metà del XV secolo, per conto di un illustre committente, il re di Napoli Alfonso I d’Aragona, detto il Magnanimo, il quale fece di Napoli un vivace centro artistico e culturale, chiamando alla sua corte letterati e poeti e arricchendo di pregevoli codici miniati la sua biblioteca.

Il sontuoso corredo di miniature della Divina Commedia aragonese è opera dei senesi Lorenzo di Pietro, detto il Vecchietta, e Giovanni di Paolo, artista immerso in una trasognata dimensione spirituale che nelle sue miniature si traduce in atmosfere fiabesche e irreali.


Il volume di Commentario al Codice, a cura di Milvia Bollati, si propone di introdurre il lettore al contesto storico e artistico nel quale questo splendido manoscritto della Divina Commedia fu concepito e realizzato. Nel primo volume i saggi di Gennaro Toscano, Milvia Bollati, Peter Kidd e Marco Petoletti; nel secondo, la schedatura delle immagini del codice, tutte illustrate a colori.

Formato: cm 24 x 31

Due volumi rilegati con sovraccoperta stampata a 4 colori, in cofanetto

Volume dei saggi: 204 pagine con 95 illustrazioni a colori

Volume delle schede: 140 pagine con 112 illustrazioni a colori

Prezzo: € 150,00

Codice: 8882908534

Peso: 3,00 kg


Inferno p. 9

Luca Azzetta

Purgatorio p. 59

Luca Azzetta

Paradiso p. 81

Marco Petoletti

Photographic atlas

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