Lot 15: Medieval Travels in the Holy Land and Middle East.- Gucci (Giorgio) Viaggio in Oriente, Florence, autograph manuscript, 1385-92.
November 15, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Gucci (Giorgio, 1350-1392) Viaggio in Oriente: visit to the holy sites and places of Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, and Syria in 1384, autograph manuscript on paper, in Italian, 35 leaves complete (the first blank but numbered), written in a mercantile, humanistic script by a late 14th-century hand, in brown ink, justification 185 x 130 mm, on 42 lines, without catchwords, original foliation in pen at upper corner, watermark similar to Briquet nos. 7373-7378 (motif: fruit in the form of a pear or fig accompanied by 2 leaves, known to have been used in Florence and Siena from 1335-1380), some stains and foxing, but overall a very good copy on strong paper, 19th-century half vellum over brown marbled paper boards, small 4to (230 x 160mm), Florence, [1385-1392]. ⁂ Previously unknown autograph manuscript by Giorgio Gucci. The manuscript contains the full, presumably autograph, account of the famous journey to the Holy Land made by the Florentine Giorgio Gucci between 1384 and 1385. The terminus post quem for dating this codex is the end of the journey on 31st May, 1385 (fol. 30v), the terminus ante quem is Gucci's death in 1392. Other Gucci autographs are present in the Archivio di Stato, in Florence, Atti dell'esecutore, 1166, fols. 2v-35r; 1167, fols. 43v-44r; 1168, fols. 5r-10v; 1170, fol. 55r. Text Fol. 2r Fol. 35v Incipit: Al nome sia dell onipotente Iddio e del suo santissimo e dolcissimo figliuolo gieso christo il quale col suo proprio sangue humana natura ricomperò. Explicit: tornati in Firenze spendemo per un col suo famiglio duchati trecento doro e più. Amen. The Author Giorgio Gucci was born in Florence in 1350, son of Guccio of Dino and Francesca of Lippo Spini. He lived in the parish of Ognissanti ('All Saints'), near the Church of Saint Lucia. A father of four children, he followed the family tradition by entering the Arte della Lana (the Wool Merchants Guild) in 1377. In 1379 he accepted the Priorate of the Florentine Republic and four years later, in 1383, he was re-elected to this important task. As Priore he was sent on an embassy to Rome to plead with Pope Urban VI on behalf of the cause of the Florentine bishop Angelo Ricasoli. Furthermore, between 1388-1391, Gucci represented his Commune on four diplomatic missions to Pisa. After a period of imprisonment, Gucci held several public offices of the Republic: he was a member of the Sei della Mercanzia ('Six Merchants', 1387-1388), of the Dodici Buonuomini ('Twelve Good Fellows') and, ultimately, of the Sedici Gonfalonieri ('Sixteen Gonfaloniers', 1392). He died early in the night of 19th/20th October 1392 while returning home from the Palazzo della Signoria, killed by two assassins who were probably sent by his brother Thomas. The Journey In the late 14th century a group of Florentines, who usually met together in the Augustinian convent of the Holy Spirit, conceived and organised a journey to the Holy Land to visit the sacred sites and towns, which also had close trade and commercial ties with Florence. The group, formed among others by Giorgio Gucci, Leonardo Frescobaldi and Andrea Rinuccini (each with their own famiglio, i.e. servant), left from Venice - where they joined up with Antonio of Paolo Mei, Simone Sigoli and Santi del Ricco - in August 1384. Gucci, Frescobaldi and Rinuccini each brought 400 ducats and had letters of credit with them for another 300 ducats to be redeemed at commercial agents of Portinaru operating in the cities they visited. The group also had a 'common fund' that was entrusted to Gucci (and in fact the text, in all its different versions, contains a detailed list of the related expenses). Their journey lasted more than a year: they travelled through Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo, the Pyramids), visiting the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Sinai, continuing to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee and Beirut. The group re-embarked to return to Italy after a long stay in Damascus, where one of the travellers, Andrea Rinuccini, had fallen ill and died. Frescobaldi, Signoli and Gucci each made their own description of this enterprise. Gucci in particular gave a very detailed and vivid account showing his devotion, religiosity and experience as a merchant and businessman, always attentive to the characteristics of the places they visited, noting the goods on the market, the way of life and habits of the inhabitants. Being a merchant, he is also consistently precise in reporting numerical data such as weights, measures and prices, also providing a detailed list of expenses at the end of the text. With regard to the Muslim world and its customs, Gucci, although not immune to the typical preconceptions of the time, almost always shows a deep curiosity, which leads him to describe rather than to criticise. Even when he disapproves, or, sometimes, is disgusted, he is often more aesthetic than ethical. The figure of Gucci as a pilgrim and author was well synthesised by Cardini (1982, p. 170) who describes him as: 'a common man not cultured but intelligent, shrewd, practical, observant, suspicious and above all, curious and friendly towards the innovations he fell upon during the trip' (Nelly 2003). The Manuscript Tradition of the Viaggio: Gucci's Viaggio was first published by Gargiolli in 1862 and more recently superseded by a critical edition by Troncatelli in 1990. This edition is based on three, at that time known, manuscripts. Of these three witnesses, one contains only the final part of the text, with the detailed list of the expenses (Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. Ricc. 1998). The other two manuscripts are thought to be complete. Both are also preserved in Florence, but in the Biblioteca Laurentiana, with shelf mark Plut. 42.30 (= P) and Gadd.180 (= G). Moreover, there is another family of manuscripts containing a different version, designated by Delfiol 1982 as F-G, which is in fact a 'compendium' of the two accounts written by Frescobaldi and Gucci. These manuscripts are also kept in Florence, National Library, ms. Fior. Naz. II.IV. 102, ms. Palat. 661, ms. CS C.VII.1753 and ms. CS J.IV.9; Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, ms. Ricc. 2822; and one in Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, ms. Marc. 5727 (see Delfiol 1982, 139-176). After their return to Florence, the first to record the journey was Leonardo Frescobaldi, who sketched, as Bartolini 1991 observes, a compendious account; next and somewhat later both Gucci and Sigoli wrote their detailed reports. After their versions appeared, Frescobaldi felt impelled to compose a more elaborate text, which is however, in many places, only a combination of Gucci and Sigoli's works. The newly discovered manuscript presented here (= R) differs from P and G in a number of details, such as the lack of rubrication (present in P) or the lack of the explicit (present only in G), aside from several textual variants. But the 'new' and decisive element of R is the presence of a paragraph missing in P and in G. This passage is of the greatest importance as it demonstrates that Giorgio Gucci himself must have written the codex. This paragraph reads: « [fol. 1r] Questo quaderrno fecie Giorgio di messer Ghuccio del popolo di Sancya Lucia d'Ogni Santi di Firenze, al presente abitante nel popolo di San Branchatio e chiamasi il quaderno delle ricerche de sagri e sancti luoghi e divoti dove io in prima io denoterò tutti I sancti e sagri luoghi ch'io trovai nel vil // [fol. 1v] aggio ch'io feci per la di Dio gratia del sagro e sancto Sipolcro e di sancta Chaterina e del Monte Sinai e di più altro divoti luoghi che in quello sancto viaggio trovamo second che miei compagni e io in ditto viaggio per iscrittura ne recamo e appresso scrivemo tutti I sagri e sancti chessono a Roma di che si fa mentione e ch'io ricerchai in una quarantine ch'I vi stetti l'anno del Mccclxxxiii e così seguiterò in suddetto quaderno dinotando tutti I sacri e sancti luoghi ch'io per lo passato o cierchi [sic]in qualunque parte si sieno e così quelli ch'io per lo avenire per la Dio gratia cierchassi e tenere questa scrittura dell'ammiratione e memoria dei detti sacri e sancti luoghi cierchi o ch'io cercassi narrerò tutte le città dove io sono stato e i luoghi notabili elle cose notabili ch'io vedute o udite anche per lo passato e così tutte le città, luoghi notabili e cose notabili che per lo avenire cercassi o vedessi. Amen. » [Translation: This book was written by George of Sir Ghuccio from the parish of Saint Lucy of All Saints of Florence, at present resident in the parish of St. Branchatio [St. Pancratio], and is called the book of the [re]search of sacred, holy and devout places, where I first will denote all the sacred and saints' places I have found on the journey I undertook, for the grace of God, to the Holy Sepulchre and Saint Catherine and Mount Sinai and other devout places that we found during the journey, as I and my fellow travellers wrote, and here below I write about all the saints that were mentioned in Rome and that I looked for, about forty, when I stood there in 1383; and so I will continue in this notebook describing all the sacred and saints' places I searched for in the past, wherever they are, and also the ones I will search for in the future by the grace of God, and I will keep this writing in admiration and memory of these sacred and devout places]. It is particularly noteworthy that Giorgio Gucci speaks here in the first person, while in the report he normally uses the personal pronoun 'we'. Furthermore he provides some unknown autobiographical details, e.g. that while writing the manuscript he was not living at the family home in the parish of Ognissanti, but 'at present' in a house in San Pancrazio (or Brancazio, as the Florentines used to say). Gucci also clarifies the reasons that led him to participate in the journey, among which he underlines the wish to discover the 'traces' or relics of about forty saints, a topic discussed during his embassy to Rome in 1383 (see above). Also of interest are the medieval ownership inscriptions. These notes refer to two important protagonists of Florentine political life: Berto of Leonardo Berti and his son Pietro. Berto was elected Prior in 1416, while his son Pietro entered the Priorate in 1461-1462. But indirectly it also refers to Leonardo, Berto's father, who held public offices too. He was an apothecary (as were his descendants) and was named Gonfaloniere in the Florence government in 1381, precisely the same year that Gucci was also in office. Was this manuscript perhaps therefore given by Gucci to his 'colleague' Leonardo Berti and handed down in that family? Provenance: 1. Original text written by the author in Florence, c.1385-1392, this manuscript may be an autograph by the author himself. 2. On the recto of the first blank leaf brown ink drawings (a head and an escutcheon), motto: 'O tu che colmiolibro ti trastulli gharlando da lla lucerna et da fançulli' (you who play with my book, please preserve it from fire and children). 3. On the verso of the same leaf, early 15th-century ownership inscriptions 'Questo libro si è de Berto de Lionardo Berti et de suo [erede ?]' (this book belongs to Berto of Lionardo Berti and of his [heir?]). Priory in Florence, in 1417, 1429. 4. Schloss Maienfeld/Graubünden, Baron von Salis, 19th-century inscription. Literature: The manuscript is hitherto unpublished. Editions and studies on the Viaggio: C. Gargiolli, Viaggi in Terra Santa di Lionardo Frescobaldi e d'altri del secolo 14. Firenze 1862. M. Troncatelli, Pellegrini scrittori. Viaggiatori toscani del Trecento in Terrasanta, Firenze 1990. G. Bartolini & F. Cardini, Nel nome di Dio facemmo vela. Viaggio in Oriente di un pellegrino medievale, Roma/Bari 1991. R. Delfiol, Su alcuni problemi codicologico-testuali concernenti le realzioni di pellegrinaggio fiorentine del 1384, in: Toscana e Terrasanta nel Medioevo, ed. by F. Cardini, Firenze 1982, 139-176. Renzo Nelli on: Giorgio Gucci, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, Volume 60 (2003) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giorgio-gucci_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/ See on Berto di Leonardo Berti : Archive of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, The years of the Cuppola, 1417-1436 (digital archive: Margaret Haines, Max Planck Institute, Berlin)
Notes: Category: Western And Medieval Manuscripts