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Nicola D’Antonio degli Agli manuscript
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adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Oct 13th, 2008 02:23 pm
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There is a manuscript from 1480 by Nicola D’Antonio degli Agli in the Vatican

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Urb. Lat. 899.

which appears to be contextualised as an alchemical work. We see this mentioned as alchemical, for example, in

Manuel José Gómez Lara Emblems of Darkness: Othello (1604) and the Masque of Blackness (1605), UNIVERSIDAD DE SEVILLA.

and

Laurinda S. Dixon and Petra ten-Doesschate Chu  An Iconographical Riddle: Gerbrandt van den Eeckhout's Royal Repast in the Liechtenstein Princely Collections,  The Art Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 4 (Dec., 1989).

I myself see this rather as an emblematic manuscript, indeed, it appears to have been produced as a gift for a wedding of one of the members of the  Sforza family.

The manuscript has a number of sections, one showing the triumphal chariots of the planets ( a common device of that period), some emblematic figures of the planets, and a section on the vices and virtues, even a figure with the nine muses. I cannot really see any obvious alchemical content. If it were alchemical, its relatively early date would make it a work of major importance in alchemical emblematic literature. 

The main source for its alchemical contextualisation would appear to be Klossowski de Rola's Alchemy: The secret art of 1973. Are there any studies of this manuscript ?  It is a really interesting emblematic manuscript, but did Nicola D’Antonio degli Agli have any alchemical concepts in mind when creating this manuscript ? I cannot even find out anything about the artist.
 

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agli.jpg

Last edited on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 02:32 pm by adammclean

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Oct 13th, 2008 02:59 pm
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This article by the art historian Stefania Quattrone identifies the use in the manuscript of the Tree of Life and 'double fountain' motifs as being typically alchemical:

http://www.airesis.net/ArsRegia/ars%20regia%201/Quattrone%20Maier.htm

'Si osservi il vecchio incoronato attorniato dalle Muse, che personificano l'ideale di purezza ed armonia, nonché l'Albero della Vita e la doppia fontana, tipici elementi del simbolismo alchemico.'

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Oct 13th, 2008 03:03 pm
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And here:

http://www.skyladder.info/?page_id=20

an emblem from this MS is illustrated in which the Red Castle is alleged to represent the fulfillment of the alchemical work, while the Angel stands for the volatile element.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Oct 13th, 2008 03:14 pm
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Some information here about a 'Niccolò di Antonio degli Agli', who I presume is the same person:

http://www.italica.rai.it/rinascimento/parole_chiave/schede/nozzesf.htm

'Nel manoscritto vaticano il corteo trionfale si configura come percorso simbolico di perfezionamento spirituale, con una particolare insistenza su una connotazione ermetico-alchemica del testo come delle illustrazioni. La tradizione alchemica coltivata da Marsilio Ficino non è dunque estranea al neoplatonico Niccolò degli Agli, mentre per Costanzo Sforza il tramite è da ravvisare nei rapporti intrattenuti con la corte ferrarese, aggiornata sulla speculazione alchemica come dimostrano taluni brani della decorazione pittorica del salone dei Mesi di palazzo Schifanoia. '

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Oct 13th, 2008 08:05 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote: Some information here about a 'Niccolò di Antonio degli Agli', who I presume is the same person:

http://www.italica.rai.it/rinascimento/parole_chiave/schede/nozzesf.htm

Thanks for this reference This is more interesting than the others as it describes some of the depicted processions at the wedding:-


On May 27th 1475 the wedding was celebrated  between Costanzo Sforza and Camilla Aragon, nephew of Ferdinand. The description of the nuptial events was handed down through different sources, all based on a contemporary account. In particular at the end of the 1470 this was  described in the Codex Urb. Lat. 899 of the Apostolic Library Vaticana, written on the commission of Costanzo Sforza, to serve homage of it to his brother-in-law Frederico de Montefeltro, the first and only account of the wedding with miniatures derived from the text.


The author of the manuscript was  Niccolò di Antonio degli Agli, a member of Ficino's Neoplatonic  academy.

The wedding couple are characterized in similar terms as already adopted in the Ducal building of Urbino for the famous couple Federico da Montefeltro Battista Sforza and the sister of Costanzo, which the triumph of Love and Fame and were attributed to modesty.

The celebration began on Sunday, the day of the wedding, and were devoted to the Sun and the Moon.


The procession of the Sun, devoted to the bridegroom, was lead by Castor and Pollux, Hymeneus god of the wedding and the muse Erato, preceded the matrimonial concord; Perseus, Iris, Orfeo and Hebe, respectively sent by Jupiter, Juno, Apollo and Pallas closed the procession.

The procession of the Moon was devoted to Camilla, composed of mythological characters sent from Vesta, Neptune, Diana, Mars, Ceres and Bacchus, among which were Licaste, Romulus, Arethusa and Silenus. The first day was brought to a close by Fortuna.

The following day they appeared on the Mount Cortexanis, that of the Hebrews, followed by the seven planetary divinities, according to the order of the seven ages of  man. The celebrations closed with the Sancta Poesia that corresponds with the wisdom which is alluded to by Mount Helicon, brought by three Liberal Arts.

In the Vatican manuscript the triumphal procession is configured as a cross, symbolic of spiritual improvement, with a particular insistence on a hermetic-alchemical interpretation both of the text and of the illustrations. The  alchemical tradition cultivated by Marsilio Ficino is therefore not extraneous to the neoplatonist Niccolò di Antonio degli Agli, while for Costanzo Sforza it is a way to recognize the relationships entertained within the Court of Ferrara, updated with the alchemical speculations, as is shown in some passages of the pictorial decoration of the Hall of the Months of the Palazzo di Schifanoia.

Evident links with the same Ferrara pictorial tradition, allow one finally to attribute the illustrations of this manuscript to the same Master of Padano-Ferraresi, to which the so-called Tarots of Mantegna and the illustrations of the Codex  Urb. Lat. 716 of Ludovico Lazzarelli  (also preserved in the  Apostolic Library of the Vatican) are said to have been created.

I found the descriptive account very interesting, but in the penultimate paragraph the author of this piece, Alessandra De Romanis, suddenly shifts from description to interpretation. 

I wonder if the article quoted there might give some more detail about the supposed alchemical basis of the imagery.

Cieri Via, Claudia. "L'ordine delle nozze di Costanzo Sforza e Camilla d'Aragona del ms. Urb.Lat. 899." La città dei segreti. Magia astrologia e cultura esoterica a Roma (XV-XVIII secolo). A cura di F.Trocarelli. Milano 1985:185-197.

There is certainly a connection with the iconography of the famous  images in the Hall of the Months of the Palazzo di Schifanoia.

Last edited on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 08:08 pm by adammclean

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue Oct 14th, 2008 12:59 am
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I wonder if the 10th/11th century Arabic treatise known in Latin as the Picatrix is the common denominator between them?

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picatrix
http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/picatrix.html

adammclean
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 Posted: Tue Oct 14th, 2008 10:04 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote: I wonder if the 10th/11th century Arabic treatise known in Latin as the Picatrix is the common denominator between them?



The imagery in the Nicola D’Antonio degli Agli manuscript is straighforward classical mythology rather than being imagery from a magical work like the Picatrix. I also wonder just how accessible the Latin Picatrix was during the 15th century. There does not appear to be a substantial corpus of manuscript copies of the work recorded. Certainly a substantial part of the Picatrix deals with astrological imagery. As coincidence would have it, just a few days ago, I obtained a copy of a translation of Books I and II.  The imagery presented, say in Book II, of astrological imagery associated with the planets, is much wider than the established European classical imagery. Thus for example, Saturn is represented by a number of imgaes almost unrecognisable to the European mind :-

The image of Saturn according to the opinion  of the sage Picatrix is the form of a man with the face of a crow and the feet of a camel, sitting on  a throne. In his right hand he has a spear and in his left a lance or dart. This is its form.
This is just one image out of a number presented. It seems unlikely that this sort of planetary iconography informed the emblems of alchemical works, which are more rooted in conventional classical imagery.

It would be interesting to see if one can trace influences of the Picatrix in alchemical works.

 

 

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue Oct 14th, 2008 12:47 pm
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As far as I can gather from googling around, Nicola d'Antonio degli Agli was just a later copyist, and the original 'Nozze' was produced in 1475 by Lionardo [sic] da Colle, who was himself just copying the wedding-book written - presumably by many hands - on the occasion of the wedding of Costantio Sforza and Camilla of Aragon.

See:
Philine Helas, Lebende Bilder in der italienischen Festkultur des 15. Jahrhunderts, page 124, footnote 333.

Jacob Wamberg, Art & Alchemy, page 52f

(both available - in mutilated form - at Google Books).

adammclean
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 Posted: Wed Oct 15th, 2008 08:49 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
Jacob Wamberg, Art & Alchemy, page 52f



I have a copy of this book. Wamberg, like many art historians, pushes his own interpretation onto the image he shows, rather than providing many facts. In this article he is trying to present many well known Quattrocento paintings as being inspired by alchemy, using generalisations and speculations rather than any clear or coherent factual information.

When he looks at our wedding procession images he says this was based on a wedding feast in Pesaro in 1475, handed down to us in both an anonymous description and a miniature by Lionardo da Colle, and goes on to give a few more facts. Then his speculative mind takes over and we read - "In my view, Guglielmo Ebreo was making use of an alchemical and Christianised version of the Jewish Mysticism of Cabala..." and so on.

He even links this to an image of miners in the Splendor solis created some 50 years later, through the supposed 15th century teacher of Paracelsus, Salomon Trismosin, who in reality was a character invented in the late 16th century in order to contextualise the Splendor solis within Paracelsianism.

Sadly, there is not much factual information here that throws any light on our manuscript, except for one footnote where he references a German book

Goetz Pochat. Theatre un bildende Kunst im Mittelalter und in der Renaissance in Italien. Graz, Akademische Druck- and Verlaganstalt, 1990, p203-4.

Last edited on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 08:50 am by adammclean

adammclean
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 Posted: Fri Oct 17th, 2008 02:08 pm
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adammclean wrote: I also wonder just how accessible the Latin Picatrix was during the 15th century. There does not appear to be a substantial corpus of manuscript copies of the work recorded. 



Checking in Thorndike I find  two 15th century manuscripts have survived.

15th Century

Vienna, Austrian Nat Lib  MS 3317. 15th Cent., 114 fols, Picatrix.

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS 10272. 15th Cent, Traite de necromancie 'Picatris'.

 

16th Century

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Codex Magliabech XX, 20.  1536. Fols 1-117v. Liber Picatrix.

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Codex Magliabech XX, 21.  1536.

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS 17871. Early 16th century. Picatrix.

 

The rest are 17th Century

BL Sloane 1305.

BL Sloane 1309.

BL Sloane 3679.

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS 7340

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS 13016 and 13017.

Paris, Bibliotheque l'Arsenal MS 1033.

 

Pearl Kibre apparently states in her book on the Library of Pico della Mirandola, that he owned a copy of the Picatrix.

 

 

Last edited on Fri Oct 17th, 2008 02:09 pm by adammclean

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Oct 18th, 2008 02:23 am
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What about Rome: Vaticana Reg. Lat. 1283, the translation commissioned by Alfonso X El Sabio, dated to about 1256?

http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/text-tools/alfonso.html

"The complete texts, indexes, and concordances can be purchased on CD-ROM for $40.00. To order a copy, contact:

The Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, Ltd.
P.O. Box 620587
Middleton, WI 53562-0587

Fax: 608-831-3997"

A translation was made into Castilian as well as Latin.

See also:

http://www.esotericarchives.com/picatrix.htm

"It is said that much of Ficino's astrological magic derives from the Picatrix (see I.P.Couliano, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, University of Chicago Press, 1987, p. 118). The Picatrix is mentioned by Johannes Trithemius in Book 2 of his notorious Steganographia (1500) and in his Antipalus Maleficiorum (c. 1500). One copy (British Library, Sloane manuscript 3679) passed down from Simon Forman (d. 1611) to Richard Napier (d. 1634) to Elias Ashmole (d. 1692) to William Lilly (d. 1681)."

Last edited on Sat Oct 18th, 2008 03:55 pm by Paul Ferguson

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 08:15 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote: What about Rome: Vaticana Reg. Lat. 1283, the translation commissioned by Alfonso X El

Yes this is the Spanish translation made for Alfonso the Wise.

Apparently it contains some interesting astrological/astronomical diagrams, However, I have only been able to find one so far.

Attached Image (viewed 1625 times):

vatican_picatrix.jpg

Last edited on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 08:15 pm by adammclean


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