Gioacchino de’ Gigantibus, f. 1450-1485
A native of Bavaria, illuminator, calligrapher and perhaps also an illustrator of incunabula, emerges from the very well documented activity both through the undersigning left in the codices and through the archival material (Toscano, La miniatura “all’antica”, p. 256; Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, pp. 265-267, cwith the previous bibliographies). He learned the art of book illustration probably in one of the many Florentine workshops. He soon moved to Rome—perhaps before 1455, since he painted miniatures in a collection of Aristotelian and pseudo-Aristotelian works in Latin translation for Nicholas V (1447-1455) who died in that year (Vatican Library, ms. Vat. lat. 2096; Maddalo, "Quasi preclarissima suppellectile", p. 21; Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 265). In Rome Gioacchino attended to a large production destined for the Curia, for patrons such as Cardinals Antonio de la Cerda ( 1448-1459) and Jean Jouffroy (1461-1473), for Bishop Domenico Dominici (1448-1478; Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, pp. 269-272; Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 266; see ms. Vat. lat. 1057) and for Pope Callistus III (1455-1458; see ms. Vat. lat. 4123, Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, pp. 269-270; Maddalo, "Quasi preclarissima suppellectile", p. 21). However, Pius II (1458-1464) and Paul II (1464-1471) were the pontiffs for whom he worked with greater continuity (Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 266). He also made professional relationships with some of the most important members of the Pomponian Academy, such as Fabio Mazzatosta, for whom he produced, together with Bartolomeo Sanvito, a series of manuscripts that can be placed between the late 70s and the early 80s (mss. Vat. lat. 3279, Vat. lat. 3285, Vat. lat. 3302; Maddalo, I manoscritti Mazzatosta, pp. 47-86).
His widespread Roman activity was one of the main vehicles for the spread of bianchi girari outside of Florence (Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 266). Gioacchino thus developed such an extremely recognizable expression that, over the years, had several imitators even though these often lacked the refinement of the model. The designs that he favored include: frontispieces, incipit pages and initials with bianchi girari, often inhabited by putti with the characteristic necklace of red coral beads, parrots, and pairs of animals facing each other in an opposite position. An artistic idiom that he helped to bring to Naples over his ten years of service at the Aragonese court (1471-1480; Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, p. 276); the scholars believe that, from the early seventies of the century, Gioacchino’s Roman success had waned due to the growing affirmation of antiquarian language in the Curia: à la page book illustration, introduced by artists such as Bartolomeo Sanvito and Gaspare da Padova (Toscano, La miniatura “all’antica”, p. 256; Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 266). At the Aragonese court of Ferrante the German illuminator was equally engaged in a very large production: examples include ms. lat. 12946, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, or which Gioacchino not only painted the miniatures, but also copied the text himself, as the clipeus which seals the manuscript reports; ms. lat. 6793 as well as ms. lat. 5827 produced with the help of Cola Rapicano, a famous Neapolitan artist. These manuscripts are both conserved in Paris (Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, p. 276; Pasut, Gioacchino di Giovanni, p. 266). As for the artist’s years in Napoli is ms. Urb. lat. 249 even though it was not patronized by the Aragonese court. After the parenthetical sojourn in the Italian south, Gioacchino returned to Rome where he came into the service of Sixtus IV (1471-1484), or whom he executed a series of manuscripts such as mss. Vat. lat. 408 e Vat. lat. 3568, both currently in the collections of the Vatican Library. The last piece of documentation currently known about the artist refer to some payments he received in the years of Innocent VIII (1484-1492), between 1484 and 1485 (Ruysschaert, Miniaturistes “romains”, p. 269).
RUYSSCHAERT, Miniaturistes “romains”, pp. 245-282: 267-279 e passim; MADDALO, I manoscritti Mazzatosta, pp. 47-86; MADDALO, "Quasi preclarissima suppellectile", pp. 16-32; TOSCANO, La miniatura “all’antica”, pp. 248-287: 249, 256-257, 270-271; PASUT, Gioacchino di Giovanni, pp. 265-267; NIUTTA, Il salterio di Gioacchino, pp. 281-288.