Herbary

  • S. XV med.; paper; mm 290 × 220; ff. I, 94 (88)*, I’; ff. 1r, 4r-6v, 93r-94v are blank
  • Udine, ‘Joppi’ City Library, ‘Fondo principale’, 1161.

A fifteenth-century herbary, featuring a very rich set of illustrations, that was purchased by the City Library of Udine in 1920.

Belonging to a consistent corpus of similar codices for their common and renewed botanical iconography, the herbary of Udine above all features a very rich set of illustrations that has recently been highlighted through a facsimile reproduction (2007). A decade before this publication an article appeared on the magazine «Ce fastu?» (1997) remarked how the Udine herbary’s copyist (and maybe the illuminator, as well) was to be distinguished from the collection’s anonymous author; the a. m. paper also indicated the existence of a second witness kept at the University of Vermont, Library of Burlington, a sort of twin-brother to the manuscript of Udine. In both codices papers were illuminated before writing the accompanying texts that very often are just like contours to drawings. As to its provenance, under the phonetic-morphological patina of the Northern Veneto koinè assignable to the copyist, the herbary of Udine reveals a more complex origin. Some hints, limited to the scientific language, make think of Tuscan, rather than Venetan, original coordinates for the codex of Udine. The elements to reconstruct the codex history along time are not so many: among them the notice of a Venetan owner between 1502 and 1511 (f. 93r). The codex takeover by the City Library of Udine dates back to 1920, following to the gift by the heirs of Ciriano Comelli, a chemist botanist and last owner of the manuscript, who perhaps had had it from his father Francesco (1793-1852), chemist as well and botanic enthusiast.

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