Latin Bible. Venice, 1475
Venice: Franciscus Renner de Heilbronn and Nicolaus de Frankfordia, 1475. (06127)
The striking image of St. Jerome in this Venetian Bible was painted by one of the most talented and prolific fifteenth-century illuminators, the “Master of the Pico Pliny” (or “Pico Master”). This anonymous Venetian painter derives his nickname from a famous manuscript of Pliny’s Natural History that he painted for the Italian humanist Pico della Mirandola. Toward the end of his career, when woodcut illustration began to replace illumination, the Pico Master adapted his skills to the task of providing designs for woodcuts, including those which illustrate the 1493 Venetian edition of Dante’s Commedia, printed by Matteo Capcasa.
Bridwell Library’s illuminated Bible of 1475 is the earliest of many Venetian Bibles that feature a “St. Jerome frontispiece” painted by the Pico Master. The work likely served as an important prototype in the establishment of this popular mode of Bible illumination in Venice. Preserved in its fifteenth-century Venetian binding, the book was inscribed by its original owner, Anton Annenberger (1420–c. 1484), an Austrian knight who resided at the Carthusian Charterhouse at Schnals in South Tyrol. There, Annenberger compiled an impressive library of more than 300 manuscripts and printed books.