PORTRAIT OF VIRGIL, historiated initial V with full-page border on a printed leaf from Vergilius Maro, Publius, Opera. Venice: Antonio di Bartolommeo da Bologna (Miscomini), October '1486' , ILLUMINATION ON PAPER.
278 x 177mm (leaf), 48 x 44mm (initial). Frontispiece, titled 'Maronis Vita' and opening 'Virgilius Maro Parentibus Modicis Fuit'; the figure of Virgil, half-length facing right with right hand visible, shown in red robes and headdress against a blue ground with white penwork decoration, within a large initial 'V' with pale pink and red stave with white decoration and pink and green acanthus on a ground of burnished gold, the printed text with blue and red paraphs, framed with border of stylised flowerheads, buds and burnished gold disks interspersed with filigree penwork, with double fillet outer border of green and burnished gold, fragments of printed papered seal pasted onto lower border; 16th-century manuscript on paper pasted onto verso, in Italian, with overlaid printed initials, comprising family records of Giovanni Vidaldi of Brescia, resident of the parish of San Tomà, Venice (small hole to initial not affecting figure, some light rubbing with slight pigment loss, a few short marginal tears, rodent damage to lower margin with loss, repaired tear affecting text).
A handsomely illuminated opening leaf to a printed copy of Virgil's Opera, originally identified by de Ricci as the 1476 edition printed in Venice by Antonio di Bartolomeo da Bologna (BMC V, 240; Goff V-167; see de Ricci and Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, 1937, vol. II, p.1714). The style of illumination and opulent border decoration is distinctly Ferrarese, and bears close comparison with the work of artists such as Guglielmo Giraldi (active 1445-89), who were engaged in Ferrara in the decoration of luxurious copies of humanist texts and books of private devotion. The leaf was exhibited in Treasures of a Lost Art (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2003-4, cat. no. 41), where the illumination was attributed to the circle of Leonardo Bellini (fl. Venice, c.1443-90), nephew of Jacopo Bellini. Provenance: The Carlo Bruscoli Collection, Florence -- The Collection of Robert Lehman (1891-1969), New York.