Tusculanae Disputationes. Illuminated manuscript on vellum.   [Italy, (Naples), c. 1470-80].  

CICERO Marcus Tullius


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Five large illuminated white-vine initials in burnished gold entwined with plant-stems shaded in yellow and infilled in red, blue and green with long marginal extensions (fols.1r, 41v, 64v, 94r and 123v).  

Size: 175mm x 120mm. 163 leaves, complete, collation: i-xvi10, xvii3 [of 4, blank iv cancelled], with horizontal catchwords, 21 lines, ruled in brown ink, written-space 112mm. by 70mm., text beginning above top ruled line, written in dark brown ink in a fine upright cursive minuscule, spaces left for Greek words (sometimes inserted by another scribe), a few contemporary sidenotes, some pages slightly rubbed (including the first), a few marginal stains towards the end, generally in fine condition with wide margins, nineteenth-century orange-red morocco gilt, by F[rancis] Bedford, vellum endleaves, gilt edges. 

The Tusculan Disputations is a philosophical dialogue by Cicero on the conditions of happiness, written in 45 B.C. and dedicated to Brutus. It supposedly took place at Cicero’s villa at Tusculum and takes the form of a conversation between ‘M’ and ‘A’, perhaps Marcus Cicero and a pupil, Adulescens. It opens here on fol.1r, “M.T.C. Tusculanarum quaestionum i, Cum defensionum laboribus senatoriis …”, followed by Books II (fol.41v), III (fol.64v), IV (fol.94r) and V (fol.123v), all ending on fol.163r, “…inveniri levatio, Amen Laus deo, M.T.C. Tusculanarum Quaestionum L[iber] V. Finis”.  

Provenance: 1.The elegant script is attributable to the scribe of the Abbey Martial, JA.3183, probably made for Alfonso, duke of Calabria (A.C. de la Mare in The Italian Manuscripts in the Library of Major J.R. Abbey, 1969, pp.84-85; sale, Sotheby’s, 25 March 1975, lot 2969). The same scribe wrote at least one other book for Alfonso, Phillipps MS.6889 (sale, Sotheby’s, 29 November 1966, lot 75). He also copied a Virgil (Walters Art Museum W.400, cf. 2000 Years of Calligraphy, 1965, no.52), a Lucretius (B.L. Harl.MS. 2694) and others, probably including a Livy, now Vienna ÖNB. Cod.45, signed ‘Clemens Salernitanus’, which may identify him.   2.Henry Huth (1815-1878), for whom it was bound by Bedford (d.1884); with the red morocco label gilt “EX MUSEO HUTH”; by descent to his son Alfred H. Huth (1850-1910); his sale, Sotheby’s, 5 June 1912, lot 1620. 3. Dr. Andre Rooryck, MS.3., sold at Sotheby's 2005.

Stock Code: 228094

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