CICERO, Marcus Tullius. Epistolae ad Familiares, in Latin,
ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
270 x 175mm. i+155+ii leaves: 1-1510, 165 (of 6, vi cancelled), COMPLETE, vertical catchwords in inner lines of ruling in lower margin, 36 lines written in brown ink in a fine upright humanist minuscule between 37 horizontal and two pairs of vertical lines ruled in pale ink, justification: 195 x 103mm, rubrics in pink, two-line initials in blue, SIXTEEN LARGE WHITE-VINE INITIALS one with a two-sided BORDER WITH PUTTI AND A BIRD AND MOTH (lower corner of opening folio thumbed and arms in border erased, initial on f.18v slightly rubbed, erasure below explicit on f.156v). Late 16th-century gold-tooled olive morocco, perhaps Sicilian (see La Bibliofilia LXVIII, pp.181-83), 14th-century vellum manuscript end leaves (covers worn, sections missing from head and foot of spine), modern cloth box.
The arms of the original owner are erased, but by the second half of the 16th century the manuscript may have been in Sicily when it received its present binding. There are ownership notes on the front flyleaf: Di don Franc:co ?F ?F:lia and Di D: Domenico
From the Giannalisa Feltrinelli Library (book label pasted inside upper cover), sold in these rooms, 3 December 1997, lot 151.
ff.2-156v Epistolae ad Familiares Book I (f.2), Book II (f.11v), Book III (f.18v), Book IV (f.27v), Book V (f.35), Book VI (f.46v), Book VII (f.56v), Book VIII (f.66), Book IX (f.70v), Book X (f.84v), Book XI (f.98v), Book XII (f.107), Book XIII (f.118), Book XIV (f.130v), Book XV (f.140), Book XVI (f.150). Rear and front pastedowns (lifted) from a late 14th-century Italian copy of Book 4 of Aristotle's Politics in Latin translation.
The Epistolae ad familiares comprise more than ninety letters that Cicero wrote to friends and relatives with no thought of publication, consequently giving a candid and intimate insight into his life and opinions. The collection includes examples that fall into each of his own three categories of letter: the serious, the informative and the gossipy. The Epistolae ad familiares were one of the texts recovered from antiquity by the researches of Coluccio Salutati (1375-1406), the humanist chancellor of Florence.
The handsome border of the opening folio and the finely-executed white-vine initials that open each book are characteristic of the style of Francesco d'Antonio del Chierico of around 1460; and can be securely attributed to this artist, who was the leading illuminator in Florence until his death in 1484.