Dante, in Ravello a precious edition of the Divine Comedy of the sixteenth century

twelve o’clock, March 24, 2021 – 21:30

Preserved in the conventual library of San Francesco

of Emiliano Amato

Among the treasures of Ravello there is one that has remained hidden for a long time. It is a precious sixteenth-century edition of the Divine Comedy, kept in the conventual library of San Francesco. The work, printed in Venice in 1529 (seventy-four years after the invention of movable type printing) by Iacopo Burgofranco and paid for by the Florentine patrician Lucantonio Giunta, is presented in the folio format (215×300 mm). The title page inscribed in a figured frame with images of Latin authors on the left and authors in the vernacular on the right. Below, left and right of the typographic mark, depicting a Florentine lily and the initials LA, the Muses are represented.

The text, which faithfully follows that of the edition printed in 1502 by Aldus Manutius (considered among the most important publishers of all time), in the vernacular and the typefaces used are Roman and Gothic for the title page only. Over time the work (currently there are 50 copies registered in Italy) has required a restoration of the binding, through the use of a parchment support. On the back of the front plate are glued two nineteenth-century notes by the hand of the canon of the cathedral of Ravello, Pasquale Pisacane, one of the owners of the work, to whom we owe the replacement of a card with a handwritten text reproducing the missing one, copied from a copy of the Brancacciana library in Naples.

The edition, as recently explained by the teacher and scholar of art history, Gianpasquale Greco, also presents, for the first time in a Comedy, a splendid portrait of Dante in his famous profile, crowned with laurel, which recalls the one that appeared in the Convivio published in Venice in 1521. Both can only refer to the portrait of the poet painted by Sandro Botticelli at the end of the fifteenth century. The “Dante di Ravello” certainly represents one of the most valuable testimonies of the ancient book collection of the Franciscan library, directed with great passion and dedication by Father Francesco Capobianco, teacher and librarian, who has rearranged and enhanced this important cultural resource.

The bibliographic heritage of the institute, whose current consistency exceeds 40mial book units, consists of ancient and modern collections. The donation of various and prestigious private collections, including recent ones, has increased its importance and interest. Among these we remember the Gore Vidal fund, writer and honorary citizen of Ravello; that of Ettore Pisano, librarian and director of the University and National Library of Naples, without forgetting the Wagnerian fund (literary and musical) integrated by the donation of Domenico Lancia and the English one belonging to the famous singer-actress Gracie Fields, first preserved in Capri and then donated by the heirs.

March 24, 2021 | 21:30

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