De duobus amantibus historia

Object Details

Title:

De duobus amantibus historia

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Italian, 1405 - 1464)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1460 - 1470

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with red leather

Dimensions:

Leaf: 17.6 x 11.4 cm (6 15/16 x 4 1/2 in.)

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This manuscript is part of a long tradition of medieval romance literature and the Renaissance passion for letter writing. It contains two texts written in Latin by Eneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405-1464) before he became pope, while he was working in Vienna at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor. The first of his texts is a long letter to a friend describing life at court in frank terms. The illustrations to this text include two that may depict contemporary rulers. The second text (in Latin titled Historia duobus amantibus) is the story of an adulterous passion between Euryalus, a member of the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, and Lucretia, an Italian noblewoman. The story is based on a real relationship and is illustrated with narrative miniatures of events described in the text. The six spaces left for events following the consummation of the relationship remain blank, having never been painted.

Although the artist of the manuscript is unknown, the miniatures are characterized by a psychological sophistication and spatial complexity. Each figure is given a distinctive face, creating the sense of a series of portraits, and the characters react to each other and their surroundings in ways that contribute to the flow of the narrative. The figures are rather heavy and solid, yet painted in jewel-like tones and with a light touch, giving the miniatures an unusual luminosity.

Related Works
Exhibitions
A Treasury of Fifteenth Century Manuscript Illumination (March 26 to June 16, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 26 to June 16, 2002, (Cat. fol. 1)
Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination (February 11 to June 1, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 11 to June 1, 2003, (Cat. fols. 14v - 15)
Images of Violence in the Middle Ages (December 21 2004 to March 13, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 21, 2004 to March 13, 2005, (Cat. fols. 20v - 21)
The Medieval Bookshelf: From Romance to Astronomy (January 24 to April 9, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 9, 2006, (Cat. fols. 14v - 15)
French Manuscript Illumination in the Middle Ages (January 23 to April 15, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2007, (Cat. fol. 1)
Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 12 to April 20, 2008, (Cat. fols. 14v - 15)
Fashion in the Middle Ages (May 31 to August 14, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 31 to August 14, 2011, (Cat. fols. 24v - 25)
Chivalry in the Middle Ages (July 8 to November 30, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 8 to November 30, 2014, (Cat. fols. 39v - 30 and fols. 7v - 8)
Bibliography

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 35, 40, 112, fig. 23.

Schwam-Baird, Shira. "The Letters of Lucretia and Euryalus in Text and Image: An Illuminated Manuscript of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini's Story of Two Lovers." Medieval Perspectives 22 (2011), pp. 126-44, figs. 1-7.