The Sketch Book of Giovannino de Grassi is the most prestigious manuscript in the Bergamo Library and is universally recognized as a masterpiece of late European Gothic. Produced in the Visconti court around 1400, it contains 77 drawn/painted subjects and 24 illustrated letters of the alphabet on 31 sheets of parchment of different sizes (19 x 26 to 17 x 22.7 cm), divided into 4 booklets. The original 16th century binding was restored by Opificio delle Pietre Dure workshop in Florence.
De Grassi was born presumably in Milan between 1355 and 1360 and supervised the Milan Cathedral works until his death in 1398. He is recognized as a leading figure in Italian International Gothic, a culture that was later continued by Michelino da Besozzo, Belbello da Pavia and Pisanello. Other illuminated masterpieces have been attributed to him, among them the Visconti Offiziolo and a Tacuinum sanitatis.
The famous illustrated alphabet is illuminated on five extraordinary sheets of the Sketch Book. The first two are monochrome and the others polychrome. The letters are made up of entwined human figures superimposed with religious icons, animals and bizarre inventions of Gothic imagination.
The facsimile was realized at the same time as the restoration of the Sketch Book. The detailed knowledge allowed for a faithful reproduction of the original book. The thirty-one sheets, having the same irregular edges as the original, are divided into 4 hand sewn booklets and brought together in 16th century archive binding. This world exclusive edition is limited to 999 numbered copies. The 64 page commentary contains essays by O. Bravi, M.G. Recanati, M.G. Vaccari and L. Montalbano. The codex, protected in a velvet bag, is boxed together with the commentary.