Maestro delle Vitae Imperatorum, sec. XV in
The identity of the Maestro delle Vitae imperatorum discloses an anonymous figure who became one of the leading exponents of Lombard book art in the first half of the fifteenth century, thanks to his atelier and his imitators. He owes his name to the ms. It. 131 della Bibliothèque nationale de France di Paris, which contains the Vitae imperatorum of Suetonius in the translation of Pier Candido Decembrio. The manuscript, dating from 1431, is one of the most important artistic commissions of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan (1402-1447). The high number of manuscripts, cuttings, and loose sheets that may be attributed to him has long established the status of an artistic figure of the highest caliber in the framework of the Late Gothic style, and was so intense that it actually created a linguistic koinè. Connotative examples of his artistic talk (sometimes varied and nuanced by his followers and imitators) include the “strong, thick and firm” variation that tends to accentuate “the outline and the fluid course of the ductus” (original text: Lollini, Maestro delle Vitae Imperatorum, p. 588); a sort of “trademark” can be individuated by the frontispieces and the pages of incipit adorned with colorful floral friezes. Among the many examples that can be noted is a group of manuscripts commissioned by the Visconti court of Duke Filippo Maria, that is, the Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, ms. McClean 162, and the Philadelphia, Free Library, ms. Lewis E 54; or mss. Vat. lat. 1903, Vat. lat. 7636 and Vat. lat. 171. In the library of Federico da Montefeltro, the hand of the Maestro has been recognized in the incipit page of ms. Urb. lat. 248.
PELLEGRIN, Bibliothèques d’humanistes lombards, passim; PELLEGRIN, La bibliothèque des Visconti, passim; MANFREDI - MELOGRANI, Due nuovi codici, pp. 285-294, 295-307; SOLDI RONDININI, Filippo Maria Visconti, pp. 772-782; TOSCANO, In margine al Maestro, pp. 169-178; HEID-GUILLAUME - RITZ, Manuscrits médiévaux de Chambéry, passim; LOLLINI, Maestro delle Vitae Imperatorum, pp. 587-589; DAFFRA - TASSO, Filippo Maria Visconti e il corso ininterrotto, p. 179.
Vat. lat. 1903, f. 1r - Urb. lat. 248, f. 2r