Bertolino de’ Grossi, d. 1464
documented from 1425
Until the 90s of the twentieth century, he was known only as a protagonist in important enterprises of monumental painting in Parma during the first half of the fifteenth century. The name “Bertolino” is in fact associated with grandiose decorative undertakings, such as those involving three chapels inside the Duomo: the first, from the beginning of the fifteenth century, for the bishop’s vicar, Antonio Recavaldi; the second, in the mid-30s, for Andrea Valeri, a member of the élite who was closely associated with the Visconti court in Milan; the third, around 1440, commissioned by the Municipality (Galli, Bertolino de’ Grossi, p. 101). These facts, together with a considerable amount of documentary evidence, show that the workshop of de’ Grossi functioned as a “monopolizing regimen” in the city (original text: ibidem, p. 101).
It is therefore a relatively new piece of information that he also worked as a illuminator (ibidem, p. 101) and that he was likewise at the service of a high-profile patronage in this capacity, just as for that of painter. In fact, Bertolino produced the decorative apparatus of liturgical books such as the Pontificale ms. Comites Latentes 228 (Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève), perhaps for Bishop Delfino della Pergola who led the diocese between 1425 and 1463; or the Missal ms. 45 (Piacenza, Archivio Capitolare), donated to the city cathedral by Bishop Alessio da Seregno in 1441 (ibidem, p. 101). But his production was very broad: Bertolino in fact dedicated himself to the illustration of volumes for civil institutions, such as the Statuta collegii doctorum artium et medicinae, ms. Parm. 1532 of 1440 (Parma, Biblioteca Palatina); or medieval moral treatises, such as the Sermones by Ugo de Pratoflorido, ms. Theol. lat. E. 50 (Oxford, Bodleian Libraries); or classical manuscripts, such as those produced for the collection of Andrea Valeri, all kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana di Venezia (Seneca, Epistole ad Lucilium, ms. Lat. Z. 269 [= 1757]; two Ciceronian collections, ms. Lat. Z. 420 [= 1509] and ms. Lat. Z. 427 [= 1655]; Macrobio, Saturnalia, ms. Lat. Z. 470 [= 1558]). In addition, he worked on ms. Urb. lat. 426 (according to the intuition of Francesca Pasut who first discovered this, see what is said in Galli, Bertolino de’ Grossi, p. 102). This manuscript shares not only the same patron as the three previous codices from the Marciana, but also the copyist, Opizone de Cisiis (ibidem, p. 102 as well as Zanichelli, I manoscritti commissionati, pp. 3-22, Ead., Il vescovo e il minio, p. 413 nt. 54).
ZANICHELLI, I manoscritti commissionati, p. 3-22; EAD., Il vescovo e il minio, p. 413 nt. 54; GALLI, Bertolino de’ Grossi, pp. 101-102.