October 2, 2010
RARE UNFINISHED UNDERDRAWINGS IN PREPARATION FOR LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS
Scotus, Johns Duns. Quaestiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum. Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 1481. Part III and IV in 1 volume. FOLIO, 347 mm. ,  lvs. Parts COMPLETE including initial and final blanks. Edited by Thomas Penketh and Bartholomaeus Bellatus. Commentary on Petrus Lombardus’ Sententiarum libri quattuor. Ref: Brit. Mus. Cat. (XV cent.) II, p. 419, Goff. Third census, D-380. Later 19th century boards with wear to hinges. Internally, except for some minor marginal worming, a remarkably FRESH COPY; handsomely rubricated in red throughout. Large penwork initial in fictive frame for each part, in a rare unfinished state, drawn in preparation for illumination.
The unfinished initials, present here as underdrawings, are highly interesting and serve as fine and rare examples of the early process of medieval illumination. A master artisan was responsible for the layout of the composition prior to the application of gold. As can be seen in these examples, a metal point, especially a leadpoint, or diluted ink was generally used.
“Anton Koberger (was the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, whose family lived on the same street. In the year before Dürer’s birth in 1471 he ceased goldsmithing to become a printer and publisher. He quickly became the most successful publisher in Germany, absorbing his rivals over the years to become a large capitalist enterprise, with twenty-four presses in operation, printing numerous works simultaneously and employing at its height 100 workers: printers, typesetters, typefounders, illuminators, and the like. Constantly improving his business prospects, he sent out traveling agents and established links with booksellers all over Western Europe, including Venice, Europe’s other great centre of printing, Milan, Paris, Lyon, Vienna and Budapest. At the supply end, he obtained two papermills” [Wikipedia]
“John (Johannes) Duns Scotus, O.F.M. (c. 1265 – 8 November 1308) was one of the more important theologians and philosophers of the High Middle Ages. He was nicknamed Doctor Subtilis for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought.Scotus has had considerable influence on Catholic thought. The doctrines for which he is best known are the “univocity of being,” that existence is the most abstract concept we have, applicable to everything that exists; the formal distinction, a way of distinguishing between different aspects of the same thing; and the idea of haecceity, the property supposed to be in each individual thing that makes it an individual. Scotus also developed a complex argument for the existence of God, and argued scripturally for the Immaculate conception of Mary.
Scotus is considered one of the most important Franciscan theologians and was the founder of Scotism, a special form of Scholasticism.” [Wikipedia]