XV cent. half
There is little information to be found about the artist who signs “Hercules fecit” in Urb. lat. 349; the critics attempted to identify him with Ercole Giraldi (D'Ancona - Aeschlimann, Clemente, p. 48; Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, p. 258), but at present a relatively unknown illuminator, recognized only for having worked for the Compagnia della Morte di Ferrara between 1486 and 1491 (actually, at least until 1492, see infra), and also known for possibly having worked previously alongside Clemente da Urbino during the years in which the latter was in Rome and present within the circles of the Curia (Fachechi, Clemente da Urbino, p. 163). He was also likely to have frequented the entourage of Jacopo da Fabriano (Pasut, Iacopo da Fabriano, pp. 348-351). In the absence of other findings, and therefore accepting this estimated line of interpretation regarding the relationship between Ercole and the Compagnia della Morte di Ferrara, we may observe what Luigi Napoleone Cittadella wrote in 1868: “There was also a Hercules Ziraldi preceptor puerorum, et scriptor of the late Bonomo, whom I found to be registered in the administrative books of Compagnia della Morte from 1486 and 1491 as a creditor for the writing of a donation, which he writes for the Society, and thus for the seven Psalms; and it seems that he was also an illuminator, because he is thus credited by the same Company - for having made five funeral pieces for the white candles that I know were given to our Distinguished Madam (that is, the Duchess), and his family” (the alternation between regular and italic font is found in the original text, Cittadella, Documenti ed illustrazioni, p. 181). In the short biography of Pietrobono Citarista, the same scholar also noted that the famous musician died in Ferrara in 1497 “as we find out from the Book of the Company of Death of that year, administered for Hercule by Ziraldi Massaro, 89AD - (20 September) for the funeral of the Noble M. Pierobon was buried in San Dominico” (the alternation between regular and italic font is found in the text, Cittadella, Documenti ed illustrazioni, p. 295). Cittadella also informs us that: “A deed by Rinaldo Rinaldi of September 5, 1528 bears the testament of a Ziraldi o Giraldi – Egregius vir M. Bartholomeus filius q. Mag. Herculis de Ziraldis scriptor, civis et habitator Ferrariae, in policino S. Antonii» (the alternation between regular and italic font is found in the original text, Cittadella, Notizie relative a Ferrara, p. 639).
Another interesting piece of documentary material is found in Lipani, «Con sanctissima pompa», p. 128: “Li omini dela Compagnia dela Morte deno dare […] adì 21 de zenaro lire doe de marchesani per lo coso de capreti dodexe mezani avuti da Maistro Francesco da li Zii, li have maistro Hercule di Ziraldi per scrivere la Pasione de nostro Signore L.2” (Ferrara, Archivio storico diocesano, Confraternita della Morte, Cart. A, Libri Mastri, Reg. Anno 1492, f. 4v); in the same register on f. 6r: "E deno dare adì 27 febraro lire tre, soldi 0 de marchesani per tanti che s’eno spixi per parte de uno libro che se scrive de la Pasione del nostro Signore, li quale ave contanti Maistro hercule de Ziraldi nostro fradelo per sua mercede". From these traces of documentation emerges the profile of an illuminator and scriptor who was fairly well known in Ferrara over the last decades of the fifteenth century, and who had an important position and membership within the Company (note the expression nostro fradelo, our brother); but, for now, it is not possible to elaborate further.
CITTADELLA, Documenti ed illustrazioni, pp. 181, 295; CITTADELLA, Notizie relative a Ferrara, p. 639; D'ANCONA - AESCHLIMANN, Clemente, p. 48; RUYSSCHAERT, Miniaturistes “romains”, p. 258 nt. 75; FACHECHI, Clemente da Urbino, p. 163; LIPANI, «Con sanctissima pompa», p. 128.
Urb. lat. 349, ff. 14r and 31r