Ad usum romanae Curiae. Un nuevo testimonio sobre la ilustración del Pontifical y la miniatura romana al final del Doscientos

Author: Mercedes López-Mayán

Ad usum romanae Curiae. A new Example of the Pontifical’s Illustration and Illumination in Rome at the End of the 13th Century

The process of creation of the Pontifical’s iconographic cycle, which took place in the reforming context promoted by the papacy in the 13th century, still raises many questions. In some ways, this problem arises from the lack of a comprehensive study – or, even, from the total ignorance – of some of the manuscripts that have survived until now. In this sense, the discovery of a totally ignored example in the collections of the Bi­blioteca Apostolica Vaticana, manuscript Vat. lat. 10684, has provided important new information.
Belonging to a peculiar group of mixed pontificals, part of the so-called «family of the Roman Curia of the 13th century», its ornamental vocabulary is directly linked to the Roman-Abruzzi style identified in several manuscripts produced in Rome at the end of the Duecento. This circumstance allows us to attribute its production to the same workshop and, by doing so, to expand our knowledge of the complexity and diversity of cultural lines that combined in the illumination produced around the Curia. At the same time, its rich iconography, including the representation of several Canons of St. Peter’s – to now undocumented in a Pontifical – reveals that it was made for use in the papal basilica. This remarkable purpose explains the prodigious creativity of its illumination, far detached from the ‘uniformity’ traditionally assigned to this type of books. This also leads us to re-think and re-place the artistic process of gestation of each manuscript as closely depending on its promoter’s decisions and its creators’ abilities. Therefore, manuscript Vat. lat. 10684 should be added to the list of the earliest illuminated pontificals preserved, explaining and even correcting the vision about their illustration which historiography has built to date.