Niccolò Polani, f. 1459-1471
Miniaturist of Venetian origin, he was active in Rome between approximately 1459 and 1471. Under the pontificate of Pius II Piccolomini, he signed the decoration of De civitate Dei of St. Augustine dating from 1459 (Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, ms. 218): ‘presbyter nicholaus polani me fecit primo otubrio MCCCCLVIIII’. There is no notice of the artist’s Venetian education, while there are many sources that localize it in Rome. The manuscript of Porfirione preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library (ms. Chig. H. VII. 229) was reassigned to Polani by Ruysschaert; the decorative pattern of knots on the incipit page in fact is reminiscent of the Ferrara types of the Filocolo of the Bodleian Library in Oxford (ms. Canon. Ital. 85)and the Orationes and Epistolae of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, manuscripts that also currently belong to the Chigiano collection (mss. Chig. J. VIII. 284; Chig. J. VIII. 287).
Also preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library is the codex with the work of Dionysius of Halicarnassus Originum sive antiquitatum romanarum (Vat. lat. 1819), commissioned by Pope Paul II Barbo and recently attributed to Polani. The distinctive feature of the Paolani’s style is the use of the bianchi girari on polychrome backgrounds and the antique style that characterizes the artist’s work, together with the use of precious gems all’antica and candelabra decorations.
RUYSSCHAERT, Miniaturistes romain, pp. 256-257; AVRIL, Dix siècles, pp. 161-163; PASUT, Polani Niccolò, pp. 872-874; BRADLEY, A Dictionary of Miniaturists, p. 85.
Vat. lat. 1819, f. 1r - Bodleian Library in Oxford, Canon. Ital. 85, f. 1r