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Detailed record for Harley 2658

Author Various authors
Title Historia augusta
Origin Italy, Central (Rome)
Date 3rd quarter of the 15th century
Language Latin
Script Humanistic
Scribe ? Antonio Tophio (see de la Mare 1985)
Decoration Large white vine historiated initial with the head of emperor Hadrian (inscribed 'ADRIANUS') combined with a partial white vine border in gold and colours, including a grasshopper, 2 birds and a wreath supported by two putti enclosing a coat of arms (f. 1; see Provenance). Large white vine historiated initials with heads of emperors (ff. 12, 48, 65v, 88, 107 (2 heads)). Numerous large unfinished white vine initials at the beginning of each 'vita' (on f. 117, the reserved area was designed to receive 3 portraits rather than 1). Smaller initials in gold and colours (ff. 142-148v). Marginal unfinished medallions (ff. 138v-148v, 171v-173, 174v).
Dimensions in mm 320 x 230 (205 x 135)
Official foliation ff. 178 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and at the end)
Collation Mostly in quires of 10.
Form Parchment codex
Binding Post-1600. 'Harleian' binding of gold-tooled red leather; marbled endpapers.
Provenance Lodovico Petroni of Siena, humanist, senator of Rome from 1451: his arms (f. 1).
John Gibson (fl. 1720-1726), dealer; sold to Edward Harley on 17 June 1721 (Diary 1966; Wright 1972).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts, inscribed as usual by their librarian, Humfrey Wanley ‘17 Junij 1721’ (f. 1).
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes Catchwords written vertically.
Some damaged illegible folios.
The central and flanking bifolia of one of the quires is stained, as if possibly an inlay had been removed (?) (ff. 101v-102, 103v-104, 105v-106).
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 2658.

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by C. E. Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), I: 1715-1723, p. 113 n. 6.

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), p. 162.

Cyril Ernest Wright, 'Manuscripts of Italian Provenance in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum: Their Sources, Associations and Channels of Acquisition', in Cultural Aspects of the Italian Renaissance. Essays in Honour of Paul Oskar Kristeller, ed. by C. H. Clough (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976), pp. 462-84 (p. 464).

Albinia de la Mare, 'New Research on Humanistic Scribes in Florence', in Miniatura fiorentina del Rinascimento, 1440-1525: un primo censimento, ed. by Annarosa Garzelli, 2 vols, ([Florence]: Giunta regionale toscana, 1985), I, pp. 395-574 (p. 439 n. 141).

* * *
White vine initial and border

f. 1
White vine initial and border

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