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Liber Physiognomiae

Arts and horoscopes in a pre-Renaissance treatise on astrology

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Lat. 697 = α.W.8.20
Biblioteca Estense, Modena (Italy)

Manuscript on paper with watercolour drawings from the Pisanello school, 1440 ca., 39 folios, 21 × 29 cm, two sheets with flat astrolabes and moving indicator to find the horoscope, limited edition of 999 copies. Italian commentary; English, German, Spanish abstracts.

Official distributor for Institutions on behalf of
Il Bulino - edizioni d'arte, Modena (Italy)
Stacks Image 613
€1,100 (Reg. Price)
Substantial discount is available for Cultural Institutions.
The Codex
Liber Physiognomiae, a detail

The Liber Physiognomiae is a miscellany of medieval astrological and medical treatises, reviewed at the dawning of the humanistic age. The author of the texts, the illuminator and the purchaser are still unknown. The descriptions of the days and of the four seasons are followed by the twelve signs of the zodiac, one per page, drawn together with the text of the horoscopes outlining the character and the positive and negative events in the lives of men and women in relation to the period of birth. The water-coloured figures at the bottom of the page represent the influence of planets on mankind.

Genealogical tables, astrological interpretations
A young musician

The central and final parts of the codex consist of genealogical tables, the biblical text of the prophet Daniel’s dream (with astrological interpretations), and medical suggestions from Pietro d’Abano, whose lectures at the University of Padua in the early 1300s are considered to be the source of the Liber. The plates with watercoloured drawings are the work of an artist influenced by Pisanello. Scholars tend to think that the codex was made in Padua, given the direct references to the frescoes of Guariento in the Eremitani presbytery, but recent hypotheses suggest the work was commissioned by Leonello d’Este.

Fine Art Facsimile Edition
Liber Physiognomiae, fine art facsimile edition

This facsimile edition of the Liber Physiognomiae was made at the same time as the restoration of the original, which was given a new leather cover with dry impressed borders and an astronomical plate. The edition is printed on Fabriano ‘Accademia’ paper, whilst the two membranous sheets of the original codex are in vellum paper. The sewing and the binding in stamped calfskin leather were entrusted to skilled craftsmen. This world exclusive edition is limited to 999 numbered and certified copies. The commentary contains the complete transcription of the Latin text and its translation, edited by Paola Di Pietro Lombardi who also wrote a historical essay on the subject, an artistic study by Leandro Ventura and a historical contribution by Daniele Bini.