Matteo Felice, f. 1467-1493
A miniaturist active in Naples in the second half of the fourteenth century, whose career can be retrieved thanks to the several illuminated manuscripts made for Alphonsus the Magnanimous (1442-1458). The first work known with certainty, as attested by the note of payment of Agnolo Manetti of 1467, is the manuscript Pal. lat. 1740 preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library, in which Matteo Felice adopts the decoration of bianchi girari, according to the style of maestro Cola Rapicano. The miniaturist’s debut should probably be placed around the middle of the century as can be deduced from another precious codex produced for Alphonsus the Magnanimous in 1455 and containing the works of Seneca (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 17842). Both manuscripts, Palatine and Parisian, were transcribed by the scribe Pietro Ursuleo da Capua, to which another large group of codices can be added, in which the collaboration between Felice and Ursuleo for the court is continually present. Certainly, the manuscript Barb. lat. 76 made for Ferrante I d’Aragona, containing a miscellany of astronomical texts and datable after 1469; the stylistic characteristic of Felice is also present on the frontispiece decorated with floral motifs and putti of the ms. Reg. lat. 1316.
Felice’s career is also marked by the collaboration with a well-known miniaturist, the so-called Maestro di Isabella di Chiaromonte, as evidenced by the miniatures of a Breviary dated 1475 (Valencia, Biblioteca Universitaria, ms. 662), in which it is already possible to see a more mature phase of the artist who will reach his maximum height, mirroring the level of the monumental painting of Naples, in the Psalter-book of hours preserved in a private collection of Geneva. Around the same time, the Psalter with the coat of arms of P. Diaz Garlon was made (ms. Vat. lat. 3467). The last sign of Felice dates back to 1492 in a note of payment for the manuscripts containing the works of St. Thomas made by the scribe Venceslao Crispo for Ferrante I of Aragon, in which the style of Felice is certainly recognizable in the decorative repertoire on the frontispiece (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 495, 674, 6525).
DE MARINIS, Codici miniati a Napoli, pp. 93-106.; AVRIL, Dix siècles, pp. 171-173; TOSCANO, Felice, Matteo, pp. 215-218; TOSCANO, Matteo Felice, pp. 87-118.
Pal. lat. 1740, f. 1r - Vat. lat. 3467, f. 3v