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Imaginary Creatures


exhibition catalogue: Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 1 April-15 July, 2 September-31 December 2007

March 2007
140 x 200 mm; 80 pp.
50 colour illustrations

978-88-7461-098-3 English
978-88-7461-097-6 Italian

The first event of the Library on Display project, a series of theme-based exhibitions of Laurentian manuscripts and printed books, Imaginary Creatures opened on April 1st, 2007, at the Laurentian Library (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 1 April–15 July, 2 September–31 December 2007).

Nineteen manuscripts (many commissioned, owned and annotated by prominent humanists) and nine printed books were chosen for the astonishing range of imaginary creatures depicted in them: dating from the end of the 12th to the 18th century and picked out from different collections belonging to the Library, they are in Latin, Greek, the Italian vernacular and Persian, and contain extraordinary images of sirens, satyrs, dragons, centaurs, phoenixes, unicorns, basilisks, winged horses, griffins and minotaurs of all shapes and sizes, added to explain or simply decorate the accompanying texts. Different styles and techniques are represented, from simple one- or two-colour drawings to virtuoso exercises by the master illuminators of the 15th century; the selection also includes woodcuts, engravings and colophons found in precious early printed books.

With the a preface by Franca Arduini, Director of the Library, the catalogue is divided into two sections, the first devoted to manuscripts and the second to printed books. All folios on display at the exhibition are reproduced, complemented by details and images of other folios that visitors will not be able to see; the images are accompanied by short catalogue entries.

Table of contents

Preface, by F. Arduini

Sirens; Unicorns; Dragons; Centaurs; Phoenix; Satyrs; Minotaur; Decorative borders with imaginary creatures

Printed books
Woodcuts, illuminations, engravings; Colophons

Index of manuscripts and printed books
Ashburnham 649
Ashburnham 1166
Ashburnham 1174
D’Elci 516
D’Elci 595
D’Elci 857
Inc. 2.10
Mediceo Palatino 11
Mediceo Palatino 72
Mediceo Palatino 153
Orientale 5
Pluteo 34.12
Pluteo 39.6
Pluteo 40.52
Pluteo 40.53
Pluteo 47.35
Pluteo 53.2
Pluteo 65.26
Pluteo 73.16
Pluteo 79.1
Pluteo 82.3
Pluteo 89 superiore 43
Strozzi 174

Catalogue entries by E. Antonucci, L. Bigliazzi, A.R. Fantoni, S. Magrini, I.G. Rao, A. Scarlino