Oxford, Bodleian Library, Holkham Misc. MS 48, f. 19r – Dante visits the Forest of Suicide.

Illuminated Manuscript. Dante. Divine Comedy. Forest of Suicide. Bodleian Library. Holkham Misc. 48.

Dante visits the Forest of Suicide.

Description of the Manuscript (from the Bodleian Digital Library):

Layout: Ruled in leadpoint for 36-45 written lines per page, in 2 columns; prickings (sometimes double) often survive in the outer margin. | Hand: Written in a rounded Italian gothic script by more than one scribe, below top line, apparently with a change of hand at the start of Purgatorio. | Decoration: Rubrics in red introduce each canto; initial letters of verses stroked in red. One historiated initial depicting Dante sitting asleep on a hillside at the start of the Inferno (p. 1); a large ‘puzzle’ initial in red and blue with red and purple penwork at the start of Purgatorio and Paradiso (pp. 57, 113); three-line initials in red with purple penwork to each canto, one of them in red with fine penwork in brown ink (p. 141). The lower border of every page with coloured drawings, occasionally using gold, illustrating the text; figures and scenes usually identified by inscriptions in red ink; the final page with an almost uncoloured ink drawing, possibly of Dante presenting his work to a dignitary with a retinue. The miniatures of the three main textual sections appear to have been decorated by different artists. | Binding: Typical Holkham binding of green straight-grained morocco over pasteboards, with the Holkham crest in gilt in the centre of the upper cover. | Provenance: One or more inscriptions are erased at the end of the text, perhaps partly in red ink. Bookplate of ‘THOMAS WILLIAM COKE’ (1754-1842) (upper pastedown), and signed ‘Thos. Willm. Coke.’ (p. ii); inscribed by his friend William Roscoe (1753-1831) ‘The designs in this curious M.S. have great merit, when considered with reference to the very early period at which they were produced. [signed] W.R.’ (p. iii); inscribed ‘Cat. 2.’ (p. 153) and ‘2’ (p. 1, top gutter corner) in 19th-century pencil; formerly Norfolk, Holkham Hall, MS. 514, inscribed with this number in pencil (p. iii). | Record Origin: Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s. | Catalogue Description: https://medieval.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/catalog/manuscript_6276

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