Notebook, 1993-

Alberti 'On Painting'

Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. [First appeared 1435-36] Translated with Introduction and Notes by John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956].

S o u r c e s

This translation is based solely on manuscript sources. Of these the Italian manuscript, MI, is the most important. All the other known Italian and Latin manuscripts have been collated with MI in order to obtain clearer readings, variants and emendations for this text. The known extant manuscripts can be described briefly in order of importance. [Professors Paul O. Kristeller and Cecil Grayson have brought to my attention eight additional manuscripts of Della pittura that I have not been able to consult.]

Italian Manuscripts
MI Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale, Magl. II, IV, 38. Fifteenth century, paper [21.5 x 29.5 cm.]. Folios 120r-136v.

P Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale. Fonds italien 1692. Fifteenth century, paper [14 x 20 cm.]. Folios 1r-31r. Corrupt.

Latin Manuscripts
O Vatican, Codex Ottoboniani Latini 1424. Fifteenth century, paper [27 x 39 cm.]. Folios 1r-25v.

OF Vatican, Cod. Ottobon. Lat. 2274. Fifteenth century, paper [14.5 x 20.5 cm.]. Folios 1r-42v. Fragmentary.

RL Vatican, Codex Reginenses Latini 1549. Fifteenth century, parchment [13.5 x 20 cm.]. Folios 1r-32v.

NC University of North Carolina. Uncatalogued. Fifteenth century, paper [20 x 30 cm.]. Folios 1r-23v. [p. 33]

R Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 767. Fifteenth century, paper [21 x 28 cm.]. Folios 65r-103v.

ML Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale. Magl. II, VIII, 58. Fifteenth century, paper [21 x 28 cm.]. Folios 1r-26v.

A comparison of attributed holograph material with the extant manuscripts proves that none of the known versions of the text is in Alberti's own hand. For this reason we must postulate lost holograph Latin and Italian versions, XL and XI respectively, as sources of the present texts. Their genealogy can be illustrated graphically with the addition of a lost Latin manuscript [YL] to explain the variants of R and ML and a lost Italian version YI as a source for P.

    LATIN             ITALIAN

[XL] [XI]
______________ _______________





Until the nineteenth century translators and editors of Della pittura made no mention of their manuscript source. In 1847 Bonucci published for the first time what he thought was the holograph Italian version, MI. Janitschek based his Italian-German version on O, R, and MI, although he also knew OF and RL. Papini uses only MI. Mallé has used only MI, O, and the first printed edition of the text. Former editors have consulted manuscripts OF and RL to a limited extent; ML, NC, and P have never before been used.

The printed editions of Della pittura are as follows: [After P.-H. Michel, La Pensée de L. B. Ablerti (Paris 1930), with additions.]

1. 1540 Basle. Thomas Ventorium. Latin Text.

2. 1547 Venice. Lodovico Domenichi Italian translation from Latin.

3. 1565 Monte Regale. Bartoli edition of 2.

4. 1568 Florence. Re-edition of 2.

5. 1568 Venice. Bartoli Italian translation. Opere morali di Leon Battista Alberti.

6. 1649 Amsterdam. [Printed in Leyden]. Elzevir. Latin text.

7. 1651 Paris. DuFresne translation from Bartoli [5].

8. 1726 London. Leoni translation based on Bartoli.

9. 1733 Naples. Rispoli re-edition of DuFresne.

10. 1739 London. Re-edition of 8.

11. 1751 London. Leoni translation based on Elzevir [6].

12. 1755 London. Leoni translation based on DuFresne [7].

13. 1782 Bologna. Re-edition of Bartoli.

14. 1782 Bologna. Re-edition of DuFresne.

15. 1784 Madrid D. Diego Antonio Rejon de Silva translation.

16. 1786 Bologna. Re-edition of DuFresne.

17. 1803 Milan. Re-edition of 13.

18. 1804 Perugia Re-edition of 13.

19. 1804 Milan Re-edition of 13.

20. 1827 Madrid Re-edition of 15.

21. 1843-44-45-47-49. Florence. Bonucci, Opere volgare in five volumes.

22. 1868 Paris. Popelin translation.

23. 1877 Vienna. Janitschek translation with Italian text. Part of Quellenschriften für Kunstgeschichte series.

24. 1913 Lanciano. Papini re-edition and correction of 23.

25. 1950 Florence. Mallé edition.

Ideally the translation which follows should be read in conjunction with Alberti's Italian or Latin. Since it was not considered practical at the present time to bring out a definitive edition of the text along with the translation, the serious student is recommended to Luigi Mallé's edition [Sansoni, Florence, 1950] as by far the best published Italian version of the text. The major Latin variants are inserted in italics in this translation at the point where they would normally occur in the text. [pp. 33-35]



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