Monastic provenances of early printed books in Bodleian collections: case 1
A Bible from the Benedictines of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Venice: Franciscus Renner, de Heilbronn, 1480.
Folio and 4o (ISTC ib00566000; Bod-inc B-275)
Bodleian Library: Auct. M 2.12
Venice, Benedictines, S. Georgius maior [San Giorgio Maggiore], from 1429 a member of the Congregation of Sta Justina of Padua. The institution was dissolved in 1782.
Maffeo Pinelli (Venice 1735-1785) hereditary director of the official Venetian Press; the catalogue of his library was prepared by Jacopo Morelli, Marciana librarian in 1787 (listed there in vol. I no. 132); all the books were purchased by the London bookseller James Edwards for £600, and auctioned by him in 1789. The Pinelli collection was made of books from aristocratic collections and from religious institutions, mostly from the Veneto.
The Bodleian purchased some 79 incunabula at the Pinelli sale through Peter Elmsley; this volume, lot 5041, cost £1.10.0 as listed in the annotated sale catalogue and in the published List of Books Purchased for the Bodleian for 1789, p. 1.
Binding: 18th-century English calf, c.1790, bound for the Bodleian Library; yellow edges; 255 x 185 x 60 mm.
Bibliography: Antonella Barzazi, «Un tempo assai ricche e piene di libri di merito». Le biblioteche dei regolari tra sviluppo e dispersione, in “Alli 10 agosto 1806 soppressione del monastero di S. Giorgio”: Atti del convegno di studi nel bicentenario, Venezia S. Giorgio Maggiore, 10-11 novembre 2006 / a cura di Giovanni Vian, Cesena, Badia di Santa Maria del Monte, 2011, pp. 71-92.
History of the Collection:
The first nucleus of the library at San Giorgio Maggiore dated to at least the early 15th century, though a new building, by Baldassarre Longhena, was ready in 1671 and filled with new books purchased by the Abbot Alvise Squadron, mostly from the booksellers at the Mercerie, the commercial heart of the city.
In 1782 the Venetian Republic began the dissolutions; in 1789 Jacopo Morelli, librarian of the Marciana Library, was charged by the Council of Ten to investigate the state of Venetian religious libraries; in San Giorgio he noted 19 manuscripts and 62 rare books (BMV Archivio, busta: biblioteche delle corporazioni religiose 1789-1812, fasc. 1 ‘Nota dei migliori codici manoscritti e dei piu’ rari libri stampati della Libreria di S. Giorgio Maggiore’).
In 1797 the French entered the city and started taking away to Paris the best books according to a selection prepared by the commissaries Berthollet and Monge: the 470 volumes included 4 manuscripts and 24 printed books from San Giorgio Maggiore. In the same year other books were taken away, without receipt, by a citizen Brunet, described by a local historian as a pedlar turned general (‘venditore di chincaglierie divenuto poi generale’), who removed several books from the libraries of the monasteries of the city. Moreover, the library of the monastery was also runsacked by the population, and rare books taken away, during a short spell when the monks had to leave the monastery. Other volumes were probably taken away by the monks themselves in an attempt to save them. So, ironically, the books that survived are those who had been taken away to Paris or stayed in the Marciana.
In 1806 a new inventory of the library of San Giorgio Maggiore recorded 213 manuscripts and 78 incunabula. With the annexation of Venice to the French ‘Regno Italico’ in 1806, books from the religious houses of the city were sent to Padua, where volumes from some 40 monasteries were gathered in the ex-monastery of St Anna. They were left there for years, almost forgotten, with plenty of opportunities to remove them. With the fall of Regno Italico in 1815, valuable manuscripts and rare books ended up in the University Library of Padua. However, the books of San Giorgio Maggiore which can be found today in various European and American libraries are witness of different, more complex, events.
Other books surviving from San Giorgio Maggiore are today in:
Oxford, Bodleian Library:
Johannes Crastonus, Lexicon Graeco-latinum, [Milan]: Bonus Accursius, [not after 28 Mar. 1478].
“Iste liber est monasterii sancti Georgii maioris … numero 708”; purchased in 1824 for £10. 10. 0. (Bod-inc C-470).
Franciscus de Platea, Opus restitutionum, usurarum, excommunicationum, [Venice]: Bartholomaeus Cremonensis, 1472.
“Iste liber est … deputatus monasterio sancti Georgii maioris … no. 619”; purchased in 1831 from Thomas Thorpe for £0. 10. 0. (Bod-inc P-334(1))
Plautus, Comoediae, Venice: Simon Bevilaqua, 17 Sept. 1499.
“Reuerendus dominus Andreas Mocenicus prothonotarius apostolicus pro anime sue salute diui Georgii maioris cenobio dicauit signatus C.115”. Purchased in 1956 from McLeish. (Bod-inc P-356(2))
Cambridge, University Library:
Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae, Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 8 June 1495.
“Est S. Georgii Maioris Venetiarum”. (Oates 1037)
Clifford C. Rattey, Torquay:
Plato, Opera, Venice: B. de Choris and Simon de Luere, for A. Torresanus, 13 Aug. 1491.
With a ms note on the final leaf [exactly like the Bodleian copy] recording the transfer from the Benedictine monastery of St Justina, Padua, to the monastery of St George the Great Venice; later Robert Finch (1783-1830); Taylor Institute Oxford. (Catalogue of the library at Corbyns, Torquay, formed by Clifford C. Rattey, Leamington Spa, 1965, no. B112)
Copenhagen, Royal Library:
Marsilius Ficinus, De religione christiana. Venice: Otinus de Luna 1500.
“Est sancti Georgij maioris de Venetiis…N. Wandstad Venetiis emit 20 s. 1658”. Georgius Francus de Frankenau (1644-1704). Hafniae 1698. Count Otto Thott (1703-1785), part of a donation which included 6,159 books printed before 1530 and 4,154 manuscripts; nothing known specifically on how he acquired them. (Madsen no. 1591)
Edinburgh, University Library:
Geraldus Odonis, Expositio in Aristotelis Ethicam, Venice: Simon de Luere, for A. Torresanus, 14 July 1500 (ISTC: io00029000).
With the inscription: “Est Bibliotecae S. Georgij Maioris Venetiarum”. (Papers of Edinburgh Bibl. Society, IX, 1913, no. 150)
Harvard Univ., Houghton Library:
Plinius Secundus, Gaius, Historia naturalis, Parma: Stephanus Corallus, 1476.
On [a]2r “Est Bibl.ae S. Georgij M.is Venet.rum”; on the lower margin of [P]3r “Iste liber e(st) monachorum congregationis s. Justine de Padua deputatus in s. Georgio Venetiarum signatus numero 545”. In Cambridge Mass, by 1841: Ms note in upper margin of [o]2r “King’s Chapel, Boston, to the library of Harvard University, Cambridge. 1841”. Gift of the Minister, Wardens, and Vestry of King’s Chapel, Boston. (Walsh 3350)
London, Valmadonna Collection:
Johannes Picus de Mirandula, Opera, Venice: Bernardinus de Vitalibus 1498 (ISTC: ip00634000).
On f.1r: “R[everen]dus dns Andreas Mocenicus protonotarius pro anime sue salutis diui Georgii maioris cenobio dicauit signatus numero 114”. Andreas Mocenigo (Venice 1473-1542) was a historian, scholar, Proctor of St Mark and ambassador to Pope Julius II. The book was later in the library of Gotha, and eventually disposed as a duplicate: on f. 1r: black oval stamp: “DUPLUM | BIB | GOTH”.
Lucca, Biblioteca Statale:
Biblia, Venice: J. Herbort, 30 Apr. 1484.
On c. 408r: “Congregationis s. Justine de padua deputatus monachis in monasterio s. Georgij maioris […] habitantibus ac signatus numero 281”. (M. Paoli, Le edizioni del 400 in una raccolta toscana, Lucca, 1990-92, no. 140)
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France:
Antoninus Florentinus, Summa moralis, Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1477-1480.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 15th c.; Count Sebastiano d’Ayala (1744-1811); purchased at his sale in 1802. (CIBN A-453*).
Augustinus, De Civitate Dei, Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 2 Oct. 1475.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 1484; ex-libris of Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, circa 1780 [ ?]. (CIBN A-682)
[Biblia.] – Interpretationes Hebraicorum nominum, Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1476.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 15th c., evidence from illumination (representation of St George on a5) and erased ex-libris; Vienna, Imperial Library, removed in 1809. (CIBN B-382*)
Cicero, Pseudo-, Rhetorica ad C. Herennium, Milan: Antonio Zarotto [for Marco Roma], 12 Aug. 1474.
Prov. Benedictines of Sta Justina of Padua (annotation of Van Praet), or possibly Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (from Van Praet 1813). (CIBN C-465*)
Dante Alighieri, La Commedia, Florence: Nicolò di Lorenzo, 30 Aug. 1481.
Prov. Orlando di Francesco Franceschi, 1728; Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 18th c.; ex-libris of Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, circa 1780. (CIBN D-13*)
Franchinus Gafurius, Practica musicae, Milan: Guillaume Le Signerre for Giovanni Pietro da Lomazzo, 30 Sept. 1496.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Sisto of Piacenza, used by Johannes Maria, Piacenza, 16-17th c.; Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 17th c. (CIBN G-000)
Guillelmus Duranti, Rationale divinorum officiorum, [Mainz]: Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, 6 Oct. 1459.
On the last leaf: “Iste liber est congregationis monachorum sancte Justine deputatus monasterio sancti Georgii maioris Venetiarum ac signatus numero 315″ “Constitit ducatorum decem octo emptus anno 1461”. (CIBN D-278; DeRicci, Mayence, 65).
Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, Brescia: Bonino de’ Bonini, 3 Mar. 1485.
Prov. Benedictines of Sta Justina of Padua, 16th c.; Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice [ ?]; removed in 1796. (CIBN G-000)
Lactantius, Opera, Venice: Wendelinus de Spira, 1472.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. (CIBN L-5*)
Nicolaus Perottus, Rudimenta grammatices, Venice: [Jacopo da Fivizzano for] Marco de’ Conti and Gerardo Alessandrino, 17 Jan. 1476/77.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. (CIBN P-124)
Bartholomæus Platina, Vitæ pontificum, [Venice:] Johannes de Colonia et Johannes Manthen, 11 June 1479.
Prov. Benedictines of Sta Justine of Padua; Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice; ex-libris of Venice, Biblioteca Marciana. (CIBN P-443*)
Priscianus, Opera, [Milan: Domenico da Vespolate for Bonino Mombrizio, after 24 Feb. 1476.]
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice; ex-libris of Venice, Biblioteca Marciana. (CIBN P-595*)
Strabo, Geographia, Venice: Wendelinus de Spira, 1472.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 16th c.; Cardinal Loménie de Brienne (1727-1794); purchased at his sale in 1792. (CIBN S-471*)
Johannes Tortellius, Orthographia, Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1471.
Prov. Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. (CIBN T-290*)
Laurentius Valla, Elegantiæ linguæ latinæ, Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1471.
Prov. Unidentified coat of arms; Benedictines of S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 16th c.; Cardinal Loménie de Brienne (1727-1794); purchased at his sale in 1792. (CIBN V-37*)
Subiaco, Biblioteca Statale del Monumento di Santa Scolastica:
Bartolomeo Facio, De rebus gestis Alphonsi Aragonij regis libri 7, Mantuam Feb. 1563.
On the titlepage: “Est Bibliothecae S. Georgii Maioris Venetiarum”. (ANT.500 XXIII B 22)
Uppsala, University Library:
Nicolaus Perottus, Cornucopiae linguae latinae, Venice: P. de Paganinis, 14 May 1489 (ISTC ip00288000).
Inscription: “Iste liber est Congregationis monachorum s. Justine de Padua ordinis s. Benedicti deputatus in monasterio s. Georgij maioris Venetiarum signatus 947”. (Sallander 1907 no. 1885).
Even if nothing has been published more in detail, some books are very probably still in Venice.