Cristoforo Orimina, f. 1335-1360
A figure thoroughly researched by critic Cristoforo Orimina, he leads a productive bottega of miniaturists, which was active during the reign of King Roberto and Giovanna I d’Angiò in Naples. The miniaturist is known mainly for a large group of biblical manuscripts, characterized by a particular undersigning in golden letters with an enigmatic representation of a dedication on f. 309r “quam illuminavit de pincello Xrphorus Orimina de Neapoli” (Leuven, Bibliotheek Faculteit Godgeleerdheid, Fonds Groot Seminarie Mecheln, Cod. 1). The codex, which based on its illustrative apparatus can be dated to the early forties to the mid-fourteenth century, also presents the note of possession of Nicolò d’Alife, chancellor of the kingdom between 1327 and 1367. With the aid of this example the artist’s corpus and five other wonderfully illuminated bibles have been attributed to the bottega of Cristoforo, the oldest one dating from around 1338 (ms. Vat. lat. 14430), executed for Roberto di Taranto, son of Filippo di Taranto and Caterina di Valois Courtenay (as indicated by the heraldic signs on f. 11r, today difficult to read).
The beginning of the decoration of the Bibbia di Vienna (Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 1191) can also be traced to the same period of years. Two other bibles are dated to the middle of the century, in a phase of transition between the reign of Roberto and that of Giovanna I, who seems to maintain the same stylistic manner of her predecessor (Turin, Biblioteca Reale, Var. 175; Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Hs. 78.E.3). The last one is a bible in which the hand of Cristoforo but also that of other miniaturists may be found. The bible is divided into three volumes and according to the text was completed in 1362 by copyist Giorgio di Napoli, who leaves his undersigning on ff. 720v-721r, at the end of the third volume. The client is the Abbot Matteo Planisio, as the colophon states. The manuscript is incomplete from the decorative point of view; of the three volumes, only the first is actually accompanied by images, many of which were sketched but left without the addition of color (mss. Vat. lat. 3550, I-III). In addition to the group of bibles they can be attributed to the bottega of Orimina, there is also a precious Franciscan Breviary (Madrid, National Library, ms. Vit. 21.6), a Histoire ancienne jusq’à César (London, BL, Royal 20 D I), a miscellaneous historical group of classical texts (ms. Vat. lat. 1860).
The miniaturist displays an assimilation of certain traits of Giotto both in the organization of space and in the design of drapery and figures. He also re-elaborates the marginal decoration à drôleries (with drolleries), typical of the transalpine miniature, creating extremely luxurious illuminated pages, in which the margins are inhabited by large branches of colorful acanthus, birds, dogs, rabbits, hybrids and lively sprightly putti.
MAGRINI, La Bibbia di 'Matheus de Planisio', pp. 1-16; MANZARI, Bibbie dell'Italia meridionale, pp. 242-248; PERRICCIOLI SAGGESE, Cristophoro Orimina, pp. 113-125; PERRICCIOLI SAGGESE, Orimina, Cristoforo, pp. 838-840;VON FURSTENAU, Pittura e miniatura, pp. 1-17.
Vat. lat. 14430, f. 1r - Vat. lat. 1860, f. 134r
Vat. lat. 3550, ff. 5v and 4v