Capitoli et ordinationi della venerabile Compagnia del Sacratissimo Corpo de Cristo detta del Salvatore nella Chiesa di Santo Venantio di Camerino.
Large 4to (194 x 260 mm). Italian manuscript on vellum. (30) ff. With 2 earlier flyleaves at beginning and end of volume each, the outer ones formerly affixed as pastedowns. Contemporary or original red velvet with embroidered and applique decorations showing Saint Venantius on the front cover, and the coat of arms of the Compagnia del Sacratissimo corpo de Cristo detta del Salvatore on the lower cover.
In an original Renaissance textile binding: a well-preserved manuscript of the ordinances of the Brotherhood of the Basilica of Saint Venantius, dating from the late period of Italian manuscript illumination. Remarkably, this manuscript is still bound in original or strictly contemporary red velvet, decorated with carefully hand-stitched depictions of St Venantius (front) and the coat of arms of the Brotherhood (rear). With three full-page painted illustrations and numerous decorated capitals and hand-painted scroll borders to rubricated titles, the manuscript is a lovely exemplar of this late period of manuscript tradition, and even features a slightly earlier style in its flyleaves, which include one beautiful initial in blue and red in the style of the 14th century.
The three full-page paintings show the same coat of arms found on the lower cover (its three nails now more clear), the Passion observed by two worshippers in the capirotes of Catholic penitents, and St Venantius standing in front of a Romanesque façade similar to that of his Camerino church, holding a banner in one hand and the city itself in another (iconography which echoes the embroidered image on the cover). Near the end of the volume a second hand adds a short half-page of text, dated December 1563 and signed off with the remnants of a wax seal.
Venantius has been the patron saint of Camerino since the medieval period, and his cult was likely also charged with increasing political significance during the 16th century. This impressive manuscript testifies to the reorientation of the loyalty of the local elite from secular to spiritual authority, from the city lords to the city patron, and from the waning of the one-time rulers of Camerino, the da Varano family, to the Roman Catholic Church and the groups dedicated to St Venantius.
Velvet rubbed, with some expected fraying and fading to the covers; binding a touch delicate, and text and illustrations rubbed in a few places without major loss. Overall, a complete and well-preserved example of Counter Reformation illumination, in a remarkable binding from the time of its creation.