JUSTINUS, Marcus Junianus (fl. 2nd century AD), Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [north-eastern Italy, probably Verona or Mantua, third quarter 15th century]
A handsome Italian illuminated humanist manuscript of Justinus’s abridgement of the Historiae Philippicae of the great Gallo-Roman historian Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus (fl. 1st century BCE), with contemporary Veronese provenance.
(1) The style of illumination suggests a northern production of the final third of the 15th century. A coat of arms on f.1, or, a tree proper, in front an elephant passant sable is that of the Cendrata family of Verona. Perhaps made for LUDOVICO CENDRATA (d. c1499), great Veronese humanist scholar, bibliophile and orator. (2) SIR THOMAS BROOKE (1830-1908), baronet, wool manufacturer and bibliophile. His sale, Sotheby’s, 19 December 1921, lot 477. (3) Sotheby’s, 15 November 1926, lot 425. (4) Maggs catalogue 1930, no 542: Art of Writing, 2800 B.C. to 1930 A.D, no 143. (5) MAURICE BURRUS, no 40. Bought from Hoepli in 1937.
Prologue, ff.1-1v; Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV, beginning ‘Principio rerum gentium’ and ending ‘[...] traductum in formam provinciae redegit. Finis’, ff.2-248v.
Pompeius Trogus was a near contemporary of Livy and his Historiae Philippicae was a historical, geographical and ethnographical work of ambitiously expansive proportions, beginning with Ninus, legendary founder of Nineveh, and detailing the development of the East from the Assyrians to the Parthians. No manuscript survives of his text – rather it is preserved only in excerpts by later authors like Vopiscus, Jerome and Augustine, and, as in the present case, in the loose epitome of Justinus, an enigmatic abridger about whom little is known beyond his name. The present manuscript reveals the fascination of the Renaissance Italian bibliophile with the great texts and histories of the Classical Age of Greece and Rome.
The style of the illuminated interlaced initials that open the Prologue and each Book of Justinus’s work, with their complex knotted forms and palette of blues, pinks and greens is a typical feature of north-eastern Italian humanist manuscripts of this period. Similar initials can be found in a De Bello Gallico written by Michael de Salvaticis and with illumination attributed to the workshop of Antonio Pisano (London, British Library, Harley 2683).
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
205 x 120mm. 248 leaves, modern foliation 1-248 followed here. FORTY-FOUR ILLUMINATED INITIALS, with the COAT OF ARMS OF THE CENDRATA FAMILY OF VERONA at the foot of f.1 (lacking a single leaf, with illuminated initial, between ff.198-99 with text from the end of book XXXIII and first few lines of book XXXIV, else complete, very occasional spotting, small tear to corner of f.151). 19th-century red velvet binding (edges scuffed, small split to spine).