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Vitae duodecim Caesarum: MS McClean 162

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Vitae duodecim Caesarum


Suetonius (Author)
Milanus Burrus (Scribe)


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, ii modern paper flyleaves + i contemporary parchment flyleaf + 188 fols. + ii contemporary parchment flyleaves + ii modern paper flyleaves, 214 x 145 mm (125 x 75 mm), 29 long lines, ruled in pale brown ink, catchwords, numerical quire marks, leaf signatures, running titles

BINDING: Late nineteenth century, dark blue gold-tooled morocco over wooden boards, red and gilt edges, by Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf (1853–1930).

fol. 1r Ausonius, De duodecim Caesaribus, section I (Prete 1978, 202)
fols. 1r-188v Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Vitae duodecim Caesarum

DECORATION: Three full-page miniatures (out of an original twelve), each the size of the written space, framed in gold, red and black, with full-length portraits of Emperors, to mark the start of each vita: fol. 153r Otho, holding a wand, standing on a marbled green ground against a background of blue with white crosses, partially rubbed off; fol. 164v Vespasian in full plate armour, his head in profile, holding a sword and city (Jerusalem), standing on a red ground against blue background; fol. 178v Domitian in plate armour and cloak, holding a sword, standing on marbled red ground against a pink background.

ORNAMENTATION: Two ornamental initials with heraldic elements on indented gold grounds: fol. 1r [A, 9 ll.], letter formed by a pair of compasses on an indented gold ground with coloured vine-stem interlace and silver scroll with motto SIC NECESSE EST, extending into a full floral border, with a crowned IHC monogram in gold in the upper margin, and on a splayed cloth, a shield with the arms of Gian Matteo Bottigella, surmounted by the crest of a female hybrid holding the emblem of compass and scroll, a knotted cloth, and the initials IM in gold, flanked by two trees on rocky outcrops, each with a horn-playing putto, in the lower margin; fol. 145r [P, 12 ll.], letter formed by a knife and curved fish in blue with a barrel hanging from its neck, and coloured vine-scroll; ten coloured vine-scroll initials (out of an original eleven) [9-14 ll.] in graded yellow, green, pink or blue on indented and punched gold grounds (fols. 26r, 63r, 107r, 124r, 145r, 154r, 158r, 165r, 174r, 179r), for book divisions; pen-flourished initials [3 ll.], alternately blue with red pen-flourishing and gold with purple pen-flourishing, for minor text divisions; rubrics in red Byzantinising capitals (Zaggia 1995, 4; Zaggia 1997, 153-54).


History note: Gian Matteo Bottigella (doc. 1443-1479), secretary to Filippo Maria Visconti; Leo Olschki; purchased from him by Frank McClean (1837-1904) in 1892; his bequest, 1904

Place(s) associated

  • Milan

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank

People, subjects and objects depicted

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment

Techniques used in production

Penwork Illumination

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: ut per ocium ac requiem
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 162
Primary reference Number: 176587
Project ID: 475
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 24 August 2020 Last processed: Wednesday 24 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Vitae duodecim Caesarum" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-07-04 07:46:20

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