Ad usum fratris
Miniature nei manoscritti laurenziani di Santa Croce (secc. X-XIII)


exhibition catalogue: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana di Firenze, 18 March 2016-7 January 2017

edited by Sonia Chiodo

In 1766, around 780 manuscripts conserved at the library of the Franciscan convent at Santa Croce were transferred motu proprio, by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, to the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, where they are still held to this day. A small number, that had been returned to the friars for devotional purposes, were incorporated into the Biblioteca Magliabechiana and later, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence after the Napoleonic suppression. A 15th-century inventory, published by Cruzio Mazzi in 1898, describes the volumes with great precision and indicates the cataloguing of the Franciscan library’s 37 desks. Such a classification is reflected in the catalogue of manuscripts published by Angelo Maria Bandini (1777), drafted after the code transfer at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, that still represents today the most significant contribution to our knowledge of collecting. The integrity of the collection represents a unique case in the context of Florentine convent libraries, since both the Augustinians of Santo Spirito and the Dominicans of Santa Maria Novella suffered grave episodes of dispersion in the past.

The exhibition catalogue presents a wide selection of ancient illuminated manuscripts that were unearthed between the 11th and 13th century. It addresses biblical texts, remarks by the Padri della Chiesa, lives of the Saints, and also precious examples of law books. The latter reflect the proceedings of the inquisition tribunal that was headquartered at the convent, already at the start of the mid-13th century. The first part of the catalogue consists of essays dedicated to summarizing the history of the manuscripts, outlining their historical context and their acquisition by the convent; and to commenting on the formal nature of the included miniatures, in the historical context of book illumination of the 11th-13th century. The second part includes an analytical survey of the presented manuscripts conducted according to the Manoscritti Datati d’Italia (Dated Manuscripts of Italy) established criteria.

The volume is accompanied by over 200 colour reproductions of the manuscripts and by comparative illustrations.


Digital version available on

Eur 80,00

Weight 1,5 kg
Dimensions 24,5 × 29 cm





150 in colour





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