BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Marston MS 31 Venice, 1470s
Bartolomeo da Ferrara (attr. author), Polistorio
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1. front pastedown: Sempre si dize che'vno fa male A ccento/... Che
fazia in piede tenere la si[?] parole.
Sonnet by the Franciscan Alessandro de Ritiis, or by his compatriot
from L'Aquila, Buccio di Ranallo, lamenting the loss of a loaned book;
printed (with variations) by C. De Lollis, "Sonetti inediti di Buccio
di Ranallo," Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 8 (1886) pp.
242-47 at 246.
2. ff. 1r-5r blank; ff. 6r-174r Qui Comenca La quarta partte ouer el
quartto libro de polistoro chome octauiano intro in Roma triomphando fo
chiamato imperadore de tutto el senato ed a tuto el populo di Roma e di
molte incidentie de cita e de philosophi. Rubrica Capitulo j#o.
Con co sia cosa che oramai da qui inanzi comenza nouo rezimento in
roma e nouo imperio in tuto el mondo...Et si Io non l'o scripto cusi
tosto come doueua. ancor vi prego che vuj me perdonatj perche tosto e
bene non se conuenne. ffinitta est vltima pars polistorij. Deo gratias
Attributed to the Dominican Bartolomeo da Ferrara (1308-1444) by L.
Muratori (Rerum Italicarum Scriptores 24 [Milan, 1738] pp. 697-848)
who published only the last portion of the text (ff. 131r-174r in
Marston MS 31) which covers the years 1287-1367 (1286-1366 in the
Beinecke MS). The attribution to Bartolomeo is, however, doubted
by modern scholars (see entry by A. Alecci in the Dizionario
biografico degli Italiani [Rome, 1964] v. 6, p. 719). Kaeppeli,
SOPMA 395 (with attribution to Nicolaus de Ferraria, O. S. B.).
The Beinecke text is divided into 218 chapters, most introduced by
rubrics and chapter numbers in Arabic numerals. At least one later
hand, s. xvii-xviii, has marked certain passages and has added dates
in the margin.
Paper (watermarks: Briquet Arbalete 746), ff. i (contemporary
paper; watermarks: Briquet Chapeau 3387) + 174 (remains of original
foliation, mostly trimmed; foliated 1-177, also in a contemporary hand,
beginning with i = 1 and omitting 120 and 123) + ii (same contemporary
paper as used for front flyleaf), 400 x 285 (295 x 192) mm. 2 columns,
48 lines. Single vertical bounding lines, full length, ruled in lead
and crayon; rulings for text in brown ink (Derolez 13.41). Prickings
in upper and lower margins.
I 4 (ruled, but blank), II-XVIII 10. Catchwords in majuscules,
center of lower margin, verso (Derolez 12.1). Remains of leaf signatures
in lower right corner, recto.
Written in fere-humanistic script by a single scribe, above top
Fully illuminated title page, f. 6r. Floral border in inner and
upper margin, black inkspray with blossoms, green, blue and purple with
white highlights and gold balls. Bar border between text columns, gold
and red, extends from buds (mauve, green and blue with white highlights)
with stylized foliage, purple, blue and green and gold with white
highlights; surmounted in upper margin by half-length figure of Virgin
with Child. In outer margin, elaborate partial border of stylized
foliage and flowers, green, blue and purple with white and yellow
highlights and gold balls, framing central wreathed medallion with triton
blowing a curved horn, on gold ground with penwork filigree. In center
of lower border, arms of the Marcello family of Venice (azure, a bend
wavy or) on deep red ground within wreathed medallion, both with yellow
highlights. Arms symmetrically flanked by 2 putti plucking fruit from
wreathed medallion and holding rods, green, blue, and purple with scrolls
bearing the mottoes "sola virtus" and "dulcia poma" in red, and two
triton-putti, one playing a flute, the other a stringed musical instrument.
One historiated initial, 6-line, of stylized foliage in green, purple, and
blue with white filigree on gold ground, with a half-length figure of a
crowned and bearded man, perhaps the Emperor Augustus. The design of the
upper and inner border and of the historiated initial is conservative in
style and close to the work of Leonardo Bellini (see Exhib. Cat.,
pp. 233-34, no. 58). According to L. Armstrong (Renaissance
Miniature Painters and Classical Imagery. The Master of the Putti
and his Venetian Workshop [London, 1981] p. 117, no. 27, fig. 58) the
decorative device in the outer border and the bas-de-page decoration
originated in the workshop of the "Master of the Putti" whose motto
appears on the scrolls. The composition in Marston MS 31 is, however,
somewhat more awkward and poorly executed than the work of the Master
Binding: Italy, s. xv. Parchment stays are adhered inside the
quires. Rear pastedown (now lifted): parchment leaf from a lectionary,
Italy (North?), s. XI#2; a parchment leaf, perhaps from the same
manuscript, is concealed under front paper pastedown. Each leaf, with
a stub, is folded around the front and back flyleaves, sewn, and glued
down under the pastedowns. Original sewing on five tawed skin, slit
straps laid in channels on the outside of beech boards and nailed.
Yellow edges. Plain wound, natural color endbands are sewn on leather
Covered in brown calf with narrow corner tongues. There is a
large, eight-petalled fitting in the central blind-tooled panel and
four corner fittings have flower and agnus dei designs on them.
The concentric outer frames are filled with rope interlace or small
roses. The Marcello arms (see above and provenance) were stamped on
each board on an inlaid leather shield which is wanting on the upper
board. Spine: bands outlined with triple fillets, an X of three
fillets in the panels. Four fastenings, the catches on the lower board,
the upper one cut in for red fabric straps, attached with star-headed
Written in Venice in the 1470s in the workshop of the "Master of
the Putti;" notes of the workshop appear in the lower margin on
f. 174r ("236 letere/ 178 karte") and on the front pastedown
("Questo sie libro quarto di polistorio di karte 174/ non schrite
karte 3 a drietro e karte 5 auanti"). A contemporary comment on the
text has been added above the workshop note on the front pastedown:
"A karta 120 che he vna charta complida sie la istoria di l'inperadore
f. barbaroxa con veniziane pro defenxione di la giexa romana."
Produced for a member of the Marcello family of Venice whose arms
appear on f. 6r and binding. T. E. Marston believed that the
manuscript may have been a presentation copy from the Florentine Arte
della Lana to Niccolo Marcello upon his election as Doge of Venice
in 1473; there is no evidence except for the "agnus dei" design on
the binding to support this hypothesis. Contemporary note on f.1v:
"sancta doratea sancta doratea." Unidentified shelf-marks include:
on upper cover a white rectangular label with "d 143" in ink (same
shelf-mark on f. 2r); remains of paper label with title on spine;
"349" in ink on f. 1r; "Cas: N. 73" in ink on f. 2r; "Historia di
Nicolo Polistoro" on f. 5r. Acquired from Payne by Sir Thomas
Phillipps (no. 3008; tag on spine; stamp on f. 2r); Phillipps sale
(Sotheby's, 1 Dec. 1947, no. 108, pl. of f. 6r). Purchased from
H. P. Kraus in 1956 by Thomas E. Marston (bookplate).
secundo folio: E tra
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, pp. 67-68, no. 31.
Barbara A. Shailor