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les Enluminures

Diploma of Law from the University of Urbino

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Central Italy (Marche), Urbino, dated December 16, 1587

TM 1050

iii (modern paper) + 8 + iii (modern paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-8, complete (collation i8), ruled in brown ink (justification 135 x 106 mm.), written in black ink in humanistic minuscule in a single column on 14 lines, ascenders and descenders decorated with ornamental hairlines, capitals and several words in gold, initials in gold of c. 28 mm. high for all first-line capitals, opening initial in gold and colors decorated with fruits and foliage (79 x 77 mm.), title-words in gold capitals on f. 1v, ALL PAGES WITH MARGINS DECORATED WITH FINE LINE-AND-WASH DRAWINGS of allegorical figures, symbolic animals, fruits, flowers and portraits of jurists, slight fading of ink on some pages, in overall excellent condition. Bound in red morocco in 1935 in Paris by the associates Georges Canape (1864-1940) and Georges Corriez, signed inside the front cover, date inside the back cover, marbled pastedowns, green silk marker, in excellent condition. Dimensions 228 x 165 mm.

Remarkable manuscript of an utterly ordinary text – a diploma of law – extravagantly illuminated with a unique and unprecedented cycle of immense richness. Page after page of drawings by a skillful Mannerist artist fill the margins and illustrate jurisprudence in the broadest sense: allegories, personifications, and portraits of famous lawyers. The coats of arms and emblems of the Dukes of Urbino adorn the frontispiece with those of the recipient of the diploma, a nobleman of Urbino. In modern times, the manuscript belonged to the Marquis and Marquise of Bourg de Bozas, whose collection featured illuminated masterpieces of French literature.


1. The Collegio dei Dottori di Urbino awarded the diploma on December 16, 1587 to Pompeo Clavari, a nobleman from Sant’Angelo in Vado. The coat of arms of Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, are painted on f. 1, those of the Duchy of Urbino on f. 1v, and the arms of Pompeo Clavari on f. 2.

2. An early collector’s mark(?) including the initials P I M(?) drawn in brown ink on the blank leaf f. 8.

3. The library of Marquis Emmanuel du Bourg de Bozas Chaix d’Est-Ange (1894-1990) at Château de Prye (Nièvre): no. 12 in the first sale of this collection, Splendeurs de la littérature française du Roman de la Rose au Bestiaire d’Apollinaire, on 27-28 June 1990 at Drouot, Paris (featuring world-class manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose, the Champion des dames, among others).

4. Belonged to Gianni de Marco; dry stamp of the Gianni de Marco library on the second front flyleaf.


f. 1-8, [f. 1, coat of arms, see below]; f. 1v, IN CHRISTI NOMINE AMEN, [f. 2], incipit, “Cum olim illustrissimus Guidobaldus huius nomin[is (scraped out)] Primus Urbini vero Dux Tertius Cupiens providere, atque consulere commoditatibus … [f. 4] … Doctissimus Iuvenis Dominus POMPEIUS CLAVARIUS de Sancto ANGELO in VADO per legiptimum tempus Legum Studiis operam dederit in quibus quantum profecerit … Anno a Nativitate Domini Nostri IESU CHRISTI Millesimo Quingentesimo Octuagesimo Septimo, Indictione Decimaquinta, Tempore Pontificatus SANCTISSIMI in Christo Patris Domini Nostri Domini SIXTI divina providentia PAPA Quinti die vero Decimasexta, Decembris, Presentibus Domino Camillo Bonaventura, & Domino Horatio Avicenna laicis Urbinat. Testibus adhibitis vocatis, atque Rogatis. etc.” [Continuing in a cursive script], Et ego Perioannes Mure publicus … [signed and notarized, with the notary’s mark on f. 8; f. 8v, blank].

Degree diploma of a Doctor in Law, prefaced on f. 1 by the coat of arms of Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. The Della Rovere family (whose original family arms, azure, oak tree or, are found in compartment 2 of the shield) gained possession of the duchy with the extinction of the male line of the House of Montefeltro in 1508. The collar of the Golden Fleece attached to the shield reflects the knightly honor that Duke Francesco Maria II received from Philip II of Spain a year before the manuscript was made, in 1586.


The margins of the diploma, adorned with drawings in pen and ink with color washes, contain a carefully planned iconographic program relevant to jurisprudence. There are allegorical animals: dolphin, salamander, turtle and a green lizard, the latter undoubtedly illustrating the allegory of the loyalty of a lizard. Especially interesting are the portraits within medallions in the lower margins. They are mainly in chronological order and begin with a portrait of the Emperor Justinian, the author of Corpus Juris Civilis, the Code of Justinian, which forms the basis of civil law. Six portraits of famous Italian lawyers, both medieval and contemporary, follow the portrait of Justinian. Their source is a gallery of forty-seven portraits of Italian jurists formed by the Paduan jurist and art-collector Marco Mantova Benavides (1489-1582). The portraits in the Benavides collection were published in Illustrium jureconsultorum imagines: the first twenty-four portraits were printed by Antoine Lafréry in 1566 (Online Resources), and the remaining twenty-three in 1570 by Bolognino Zaltieri.

The portraits in our manuscript are:

f. 4, Emperor Justinian (c. 482-565);

f. 5, Magnus Accursius of Florence (c. 1182-1263);

f. 5v, Bartolus de Saxoferrato (Bartolo da Sassoferrato) (1313-1357);

f. 6, Baldus de Ubaldis of Perugia (1327-1400);

f. 6v, Mariano Sozzini (1482-1556);

f. 7, Gerolamo Cagnolo (1491-1551);

f. 7v, Dino del Mugello (1253-1303).

In the outer margins are depicted twelve allegorical female figures. The first five represent the five senses:

f. 2, Sight;

f. 2v, Hearing;

f. 3, Taste;

f. 3v, Smell;

f. 4, Touch.

They correspond to the allegorical representations of the five senses, found for example in the highly influential emblem book Iconologia by the Italian iconographer Cesare Ripa, first printed in 1593, and reprinted with illustrations in several subsequent editions (for the five senses, see Ripa, 1643, pp. 49-51). The attributes for Sight are the mirror and the vulture, the former signifying how sight is the image created by the eye, radiant like a mirror and translucent like water; the vulture was already associated with sight in Egyptian hieroglyphs, referring to the keen vision of this bird. The attributes of Hearing are the lute, signifying harmony, and the deer, whose alert ear is able to distinguish the smallest rattle of a leaf in the wind. The personification of Taste samples different fruits, while that representing Smell holds a cornucopia of flowers signifying natural smell and has at her feet a hunting dog, known for its ability to follow a scent. The final sense, Touch, is also described in the Iconologie exactly as we find her in our manuscript: a female figure with bare arms, a falcon perched on her left hand and a tortoise at her feet, both symbols of touch, the latter found already in the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The meaning of the seven remaining figures are goddesses who embody the virtues connected to jurisprudence. 

f. 4v, Artemis;

f. 5, Aphrodite;

f. 5v, Geometria (?) a figure holding a divider;

f. 6, Minerva;

f. 6v, Urania;

f. 7, Erato (?) a figure holding a harp;

f. 7v, Athena (?), a figure holding a book.

In addition to the pictorial subjects, the margins are adorned with flower and fruit wreaths, and the title page on f. 1v is ornamented with especially fine pen and ink drawings of allegorical figures, a face, an owl, fruit, vases, and foliage.

One of the great masters of Mannerism, Federico Zuccari (1542/3-1609), like the patron of the manuscript, was from Sant’Angelo in Vado, the small town outside of Urbino, raising the possibility that our diploma was by this master. However, James Mundy, who is preparing a catalogue of drawings by Federico, has concluded that this is unlikely (we thank Dr. Mundy for sharing his expertise). He observes that “while San Angelo in Vado was not a big place, it still had a number of competent artists at work there and in the nearby Marches towns who might have done this local job. Our artist was likely someone like that, or someone at the court of the Duke of Urbino” (see in general Cleri, ed., 1993). One can also compare the allegorical figures of Justice and Prudence in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Estampes, Rés. B 3 (see Online Resources), once attributed to Zuccari, but now considered to be close to the work of Raffaellino da Reggio (1550-1578). The figures are strikingly similar, as is the application of the different shades of wash to model the diaphanous fabric, revealing the nude figures.

The Clavari family originated in the small town of Sant’Angelo in Vado, an ancient bishopric about thirty kilometers west of Urbino. The Clavari coat of arms is painted in the lower margin of f. 2 in our manuscript: Di rosso alla chiave d'oro posta in palo. These arms were also painted (and are still visible) in the family church, the Chiesa di San Filippo in Sant’Angelo in Vado. The town of Sant’Angelo in Vado was subject to the Brancaleoni family since the middle of the fourteenth century, and with the marriage in 1437 of Gentile Brancaleoni with Federico da Montefeltro (the couple famously portrayed by Piero della Francesca), Sant’Angelo in Vado came under the control of the duchy of Urbino. Since then the history of Sant’Angelo in Vado followed the fate of Urbino. Francesco Clavari moved the family in Urbino soon after the ducal marriage, around 1340, where it held prestigious communal offices and honors, with several of its members appointed gonfalonieri (a member of the city government) and podestà (a chief magistrate). In addition to this manuscript, Pompeo Clavari is mentioned in a notarial record of 1634 (Paolini, 1995, pp. 52-53).

Following the incipit, the text proper of the diploma begins on f. 2, and records the circumstances of the founding of the Collegio dei Dottori di Urbino, established in 1506 by the Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, and in 1507 granted the right to award diplomas by the bull of Pope Julius II. The faculty of law was created for teaching canon and civil law in 1566. Twenty-one years later Pompeo Clavari graduated from the faculty as jurist.

Doctoral diplomas from early modern Italy, which survive in both private and institutional collections, have gained scholarly attention in recent decades. Studies have focused on a broad range of topics, from their value as historical and institutional sources, to their interest as artifacts, studied for their script, illumination, and binding (see, for example, Baldissin Molli, 1998, and Maggiulli, 2016). While some diplomas were written on flat sheets, as they appear today, diplomas in quarto format, usually illuminated and elaborately bound, appear c. 1580-90 in northern Italian universities and maintained this presentation into the nineteenth century.


Baldissin M. Giovanna, Luciana Sitran Rea, and Emilia Veronese Ceseracciu, eds. Diplomi di Laurea all’ Università di Padova (1504-1806), Padua, 1998.

Cleri, B., ed. Federico Zuccari: Le idee, gli scritti, Milan, 1997.

Cleri, B. Per Taddeo e Federico Zuccari nelle Marche : Sant'Angelo in Vado, Palazzo Fagnani, 18 settembre-7 novembre 1993, introduction by Paolo Dal Poggetto, Italy, 1993.

Cohen, S. Animals as Disguised Symbols in Renaissance Art, Leiden, 2008.

Farina, F. and S. Pivato, eds. Honor et meritus: diplomi di laurea dal XV al XX secolo: mostra documentaria realizzata in occasione del 500 anniversario della fondazione dell'Università degli studi di Urbino, Rimini, 2005.

Favaretto, I. “Andrea Mantova Benavides: Inventario delle antichità di casa Mantova Benavides, 1695,” Bollettino del Museo Civico di Padova, 61 (1972), pp. 35-164.

Favaretto, I. and A. Menegazzi, eds. Un museo di antichità nella Padova del cinquecento: la raccolta di Marco Mantova Benavides all’Università di Padova, Museo di scienze archeologiche e d’arte, Rome, 2013.

Hochmann, M. “Les annotation marginales de Federico Zuccaro à un exemplaire des Vies de Vasari: La réaction anti-vasarienne à la fin du XVIe siècle,” Revue de l’Art, 80 (1988), pp. 64-71.

Illustrium jureconsultorum imagines quae inveniri potuerunt ad vivam effigiem expressae. Ex Musaeo Marci Mantuae Benavidii, Rome, 1566.

Illustrium jureconsultorum imagines quae inveniri potuerunt ad vivam effigiem expressae. Ex Musaeo Marci Mantuae Benavidii Patavini jurisconsulti clarissimi, Venice, 1570. 

Karet, E. The Antonio II Badile Album of Drawings: The Origins of Collecting Drawings in Early Modern Northern Italy, Farnham, 2014.

Levi d’Ancona, M. Lo Zoo del Rinascimento: Il significato degli animali nella pittura italiana dal XIV al XVI secolo, Florence, 2001.

Maggiulli, I., ed. Diplomi di laurea. Conservati nell'Archivio storico dell'università di Bologna, Rimini, 2016.

Paolini, B. La Cappella musicale di S. Angelo in Vado, Rome, 1995.

Ripa, C. Iconologie: ou les principales choses qui peuvent tomber dans la pensee touchant les Vices et les Vertus, Paris, 1643.

Winner, M. and D. Heikamp, eds. Der Maler Federico Zuccari: Ein römischer Virtuoso von europäischem Ruhm, Akten des internationalen Kongresses der Bibliotheca Hertziana Rom und Florenz, 23.-26. February 1993, Munich, 1999.

Wazbinski, Z. “Artisti e pubblico nelle Firenze del cinquecento: a proposito del topos ‘cane abbaiante’,” Paragone 327 (1977), pp. 3-24.

Wazbinski, Z. “Lo Studio: la scuola fiorentina di Federico Zuccari,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorichen Institutes in Florenz, 29, 2/3 (1985), pp. 275-346.

Zampetti, P. Pittura nelle Marche, III, Florence, 1990.

Online Resource

“Deux Vertus: la Justice et la Prudence,” Paris, Bibliothèque natinale de France, Estampes, Rés. B 3:

Illustrium jureconsultorum imagines..., Rome, 1566 (Google Books)

Stefano De Mieri, “Raffaele Motta,”(Raffaellino da Reggio), Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 77 (2012)

TM 1050