Damascenus: Sententiae

The manuscript is a spectacular relic of the conscious enhancement of the Corvina Library at the second half of the 1480s. In addition to the Corvinas made at the Buda workshop, King Matthias ordered several codices from the most excellent Florentine book-illuminating workshops, regardless of the costs. One of them is the Damascenus Corvina, a typical high-quality product of Attavante degli Attavanti. The binding, however, was made in Buda as a masterpiece of the Corvina bookbinder. As opposed to most codices within the group of leather bindings of markedly centralized layout, usually with the king’s coat of arms at the center, the composition of the Damascenus Corvina is entirely different: it is a five-circle structure decorated with fine carving, colorful painting and the usual rich gilding. It was perhaps the large size binding table that led the master to elaborate a composition that fills the area proportionally. (Edina Zsupán)

Source: The Corvina Library and the Buda Worskhop: [National Széchényi Library, November 6, 2018 –February 9, 2019] A Guide to the Exhibition; introduction and summary tables: Edina Zsupán; object descriptions: Edina Zsupán, Ferenc Földesi; English translation: Ágnes Latorre, Budapest: NSZL, 2018, p. 220


On the provenance of the manuscript: PONTONE, Marzia, “Collezionismo di Corvine in casa Trivulzio. Appunti sui codici Trivulziano 817 e Trivulziano 818”, in ZSUPÁN, Edina, ed., A Home of Arts and Muses. The Library of King Matthias Corvinus. De Bibliotheca Corviniana. Supplementum Corvinianum 4. (Budapest: Bibliotheca Nationalis Hungariae, 2017.), 21–31.



Shelfmark: Cod. Lat. 345.
Country: Hungary
City: Budapest
Keeper location: National Széchényi Library
Author: 1. Johannes Damascenus; 2. Anselmus Cantuariensis
Content: 1. Sententiae; 2. Opera
Translator: Burgundius Pisanus (Sententiae)
Writing medium: parchment
Number of sheets: 292
Sheet size: 351 × 238 mm
Place of writing: Florence
Illuminator: Attavante degli Attavanti (1452–1517/1525)
Place of illumination: Florence
Date of illumination: 1485‒1490
Crest: the coat-of-arms of Matthias Corvinus (King of Hungary 1458‒1490, King of Bohemia 1469‒1490) has been repainted, now it is replaced by the Hungarian double cross
Possessor, provenience: it is not known when and how the manuscript left Buda after the death of Matthias Corvinus. Sometime at the end of the 18th century, it came to the Trivulzio family in Milan, together with the corvinas Cod. No. 817 and Cod. No. 818, which are still kept in the city. The coat-of-arms of Matthias Corvinus was repainted in the same style in all three manuscripts, using burgundy instead of red and dark blue instead of silver. Unlike the two Milanese corvinas, the present manuscript was inherited by Cristina Trivulzio, better known as Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso (1808‒1871), after the division of the family estate in 1824. In 1885, Cristina's only daughter Maria, wife of the Marquis Lodovico Trotti Bentivoglio (1829‒1914), sold it to the Milanese bookdealer Ulrico Hoepli (1847‒1935), from whom it was bought by the Hungarian National Library in 1886
Binding: original gilded leather corvina binding; gauffered, gilded edge (probably in the late 1480s)
Language of corvina: Latin