Proposition

This article proposes that Francesco Novati’s 1902 facsimile reproduction of Flos Duellatorum contains clear stylistic discrepancies that can both elucidate its connection to the original Pisani-Dossi manuscript, and identify connections between the Pisani-Dossi and other manuscripts of The Flower of Battle. These inconsistencies surface in the bottom two images of Novati Carta 13A, and in all four images of Novati Carta 13B.[1] This article seeks to illustrate that all six of these images not only differ stylistically from the rest of the artwork in the Novati facsimile, but indeed share strong stylistic similarities with the artwork of the MS M.383, also known as the Morgan manuscript.[2] The primary thesis of this article argues that the illustrations identified in the Novati facsimile on Carta 13A and Carta 13B were in fact drawn by the Morgan artist. Secondarily, this article seeks to present evidence that the Novati facsimile is an exact reproduction of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript.

Relevance

This proposition is relevant because it validates the accuracy of the Novati facsimile, provides new evidence for understanding the order of construction of the Morgan and Pisani-Dossi manuscripts, suggests that the Pisani-Dossi artist had direct access to illustrated source material at the time of the manuscript’s construction, and underlines the possibility of artistic duplication within the corpus of The Flower of Battle.

Methodology

This article relies primarily upon detailed side-by-side image comparison of artwork and forensic details from both the Novati facsimile and the Morgan manuscript. It begins with a stylistic analysis in which artwork samples from the Morgan manuscript are compared with the images in question on Novati 13A and 13B. Both sets of images are then compared with corresponding artwork samples taken from elsewhere in the Novati facsimile. The analysis of the artwork takes into consideration the execution of the following elements: overall presentation, head, torso, upper limbs, lower limbs, clothing, shading, and contour. The stylistic analysis will conclude by presenting an inconsistent image from the Morgan manuscript for close comparison with the artwork of the Novati facsimile. Subsequently, a forensic analysis will be conducted to examine evidence which may elucidate the relationship of the Novati facsimile to the original Pisani-Dossi manuscript, as well as provide insights on the order in which the Pisani-Dossi and Morgan manuscripts were constructed. This analysis will begin by examining anomalies pertaining to gold and silver foil application, and will investigate the significance of drawn margins, ghost images, follicle marks, and handwriting comparisons.

Stylistic Analysis

Those who have studied the Novati facsimile closely may have already recognized that there is something disparate about the illustrations on the two pages depicted below. Something about them feels different. This sensibility may be difficult to articulate, other than to say that the images are somehow not like the other drawings in the Novati. Those who have also closely studied the artwork of the Morgan manuscript may make the additional observation that these illustrations seem not only different, but familiar. It was the intersection of these two realizations that generated the flashpoint for the research leading up to the current analysis. The following investigation has been structured to allow the reader to make both of these observations simultaneously with each case.

Novati Carta 13A, Novati Carta 13B

Overall Presentation

The images below have been provided so that the reader may have a general impression of how the artistic styles in question differ when viewed side by side. The reader should note that the black ink of the Novati facsimile may not accurately represent the original ink color of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript.

Morgan 18R (D), Novati 13A (C), Novati 16B (A)

Morgan 16V (B), Novati 13A (D), Novati 14A (B)

Morgan 15V (C), Novati 13B (B), Novati 14A (A)

It is notable in looking at these images that the figures in the examples from Novati 13A and 13B appear stilted and delicately drawn, like the images from the Morgan. In contrast, the examples of standard Novati artwork, shown in each case on the right, appear rough and heavy-limbed by comparison. This general impression will be validated when these elements are more closely examined.

Head Comparison

The images below provide examples of heads that are representative of the artistic styles in question.

Morgan 14V (A), Morgan 14R (B), Morgan 13V (B), Morgan 14V (C)

Novati 13A (D), Novati 13A (D), Novati 13B (A), Novati 13B (B)

Novati 14A (D), Novati 14A (A), Novati 14B (B), Novati 14A (B)

Note the contour of the hairline as depicted in the Morgan artwork. The hairline turns abruptly downward at the corner of the forehead, and then curves backward behind the neck. This shape of the hairline is repeated in the examples from Novati 13A and 13B. The examples of standard Novati artwork taken from 14A and 14B, on the other hand, do not follow this pattern. Seen in profile, the hairline tends to slope straight back from the front of the forehead. When seen partially from the front, it tends to be parted acutely in the middle. Likewise the treatment of the faces on Novati 13A and 13B resemble that of the Morgan rather than the typical faces of the Novati.

Torso Shape Comparison

The images below provide examples of torsos that are representative of the artistic styles in question. Note the overall shape of the torsos, especially in profile, with close attention to the contour of the chest and back.

Morgan 15V (B), Morgan 15V (C), Morgan 16R (C), Morgan 16R (B)

Novati 13A (D), Novati 13B (A), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (C)

Novati 14B (D), Novati 14A (A), Novati 14A (B), Novati 14A (B)

Note the relative narrowness of the waist in Novati 13A (D) and Novati 13B (A). The hourglass shape of the torso is similar to the style of the torsos in the Morgan, shown immediately above. Additionally, note the shape of the upper torsos of Novati 13B (B) and Novati 13B (C). In both of these images, the chest bulges out with exaggerated roundness, whereas the contour of the lower back juts out abruptly from the waistline and then turns upward to form a right angle. This is characteristic of the Morgan artwork and is seen throughout the latter. In contrast, the torsos of typical figures in the Novati have a less pronounced hourglass shape due to a more gradual taper at the waist, most significantly, lack the awkward bulges at the back and chest.

Upper Limb Comparison

The images below provide examples of upper limbs that are representative of the artistic styles in question. Note especially the relative proportions of the arms.

Morgan 13V (C), Morgan 15V (B), Morgan 16R (C), Morgan 18V (B)

Novati 13A (D), Novati 13B (C), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (D)

Novati 14A (A), Novati 14A (B), Novati 14A (A), Novati 14B (D)

Note the taper of the arms from shoulder to elbow, and elbow to wrist, in the images from Novati 13A and 13B. Like the Morgan images, these taper more gradually, and tend to be thinner at the elbow and at the wrist, as compared with the characteristic Novati images below them. The arms typical of Novati artwork tend to be broader, especially at the upper forearm, often giving them the appearance of being stunted or shrouded in billowing sleeves. Also of note is the size of the hands in the Novati images shown at the bottom. These are strangely large, and are often drawn with splayed fingers. The images from Novati 13A and 13B have much smaller hands that tend to be closed in a fist, like those of the Morgan.

Lower Limb Comparison

The images below provide examples of lower limbs that are representative of the artistic styles in question. The execution of the legs is one of the most striking signs of stylistic variation within the Novati. Note the overall proportions.

Morgan 9V (D), Morgan 13V (B), Morgan 15V (D), Morgan 15v (B)

Novati 13A (C), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (C), Novati 13B (C)

Novati 14A (C), Novati 14A (A), Novati 14A (B), Novati 14A (D)

Note how narrow and elongated the legs are in Novati 13A and 13B. The lower legs are exceptionally long and narrow with prominent calves, while the upper legs are comparatively short and thin above the knee. This gives the legs a stilted and delicate appearance. This is distinctive of the Morgan artwork.[3] In contrast, the legs typical of the Novati appear thick and heavy, with broader ankles and thighs. Also telling are the differences in the treatment of the feet. Like those in the Morgan artwork, the feet in Novati 13A and 13B are short in comparison to the proportion of the legs, and typically rounded at the toe. The typical Novati feet differ in that they are relatively elongated, with a very narrow taper toward the toe that often ends in a point. Lastly and most notably, the oddly hoof-like foot in Novati 13A (C) is strikingly similar to the foot in the image above it, taken from the Morgan. This hoof-like drawing of the foot is a hallmark of the Morgan artist, and is seen numerous times in that manuscript.[4]

Clothing Comparison

The images below provide examples of clothing details that are representative of the artistic styles in question. Readers familiar with the Morgan will recognize the clothing details below as being among the few adornments of that manuscript.[5]

Morgan 9R (A), Morgan 9V (A), Morgan 16V (B), Morgan 15V (B)

Novati 13A (C), Novati 13A (C), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (C)

Novati 14A (A), Novati 14A (C), Novati 14B (B), Novati 14B (C)

Note the flowing upper sleeve in Novati 13A (C), as well as the fluttering hem of the figure’s jacket to the right, also from Novati 13A (C). This detail is identical to several which appear throughout the Morgan manuscript, some of which have been displayed directly above. This type of detail does not appear anywhere else in the Novati. Also note the the V shaped cut in the coat hem of the figures in Novati 13B (B) and 13B (C). This simple cut is typical of the Morgan artwork, displayed above. Standard Novati artwork, by contrast, generally shows triangular sections of fabric folding outward in either direction from this notch. Some of the figures illustrated in MS Latin 11269, alternatively known as the ‘Paris’, also display this stylistic treatment of the coat hem with two triangular flaps of fabric turning outward from the notch.[6] It does not appear in the Morgan.

Shading Comparison

The images below provide examples of shading that are representative of the artistic styles in question. The reader is directed especially to the variations in density and uniformity of the crosshatching, as well as the general shape of the shaded areas.

Morgan 10V (C), Morgan 11R (A), Morgan 14R (D), Morgan 16R (B)

Novati 13B (C), Novati 13B (A), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (B)

Novati 14A (A), Novati 14A (B), Novati 14B (C), Novati 14A (B)

Note regular spacing of the hatching on the torsos from Novati 13B. This shading is drawn sometimes with simple horizontal lines, and other times with intersecting crosshatching. These tend to be delicate and more or less evenly spaced. This approach to shading is consistent with that of the Morgan. By contrast, the crosshatching in typical Novati artwork tends to be heavier and more irregular. This same pattern extends to the treatment of the arms and legs. Often, the shading in the Novati completely darkens an entire upper arm or leg with heavy strokes. In contrast, the shading of the limbs in Novati 13A and 13B is done more conservatively. For instance, shading on the arms consists of short tick marks on the lower or inner edge of the arms, like that in the Morgan. Most notably, the cross hatching on the legs of the figures in Novati 13A and 13B consist almost exclusively of small triangular sections on the backs or insides of the thighs, tapering toward the knee. This is a very distinct characteristic of the Morgan artwork.[7]

Contour Comparison

The images below provide examples of contours that are representative of the artistic styles in question. The reader is directed to note especially the number of pen strokes in a given contour.

Morgan 16R (C), Morgan 16R (B), Morgan 14R (A), Morgan 15V (A)

Novati 13B (A), Novati 13B (C), Novati 13B (B), Novati 13B (A)

Novati 14A (A), Novati 14B (C), Novati 14B (A), Novati 14B (B)

Note the relative smoothness and continuity of the outer contours in the images from Novati 13B. Like those of the Morgan artwork above, the lines tend to be drawn very economically, using a small number of continuous pen strokes. Their execution suggests a controlled and steady hand. By contrast, the contours of the standard Novati artwork shown at the bottom are rough and choppy. Each contour appears to have been executed with the effort of many short pen strokes that often crisscross and overlap. If there is a single fundamental element which on the one hand separates the drawings of Novati 13A and 13B from the rest of the Novati artwork, and on the other ties it closely with the artwork of the Morgan, it is the execution of the lines themselves. This distinction is categorical, and will be found upon every examination of the images in question. More even than style, it is the mark of a different hand.

A Retouched Image in the Morgan

Here the analysis turns to consider the curious case of Morgan 10R (D), illustrating the guard porta di ferro mezana alongside other poste for fighting with sword in armor.[8] This image stands out from the other images on the page by virtue of its conspicuously bold ink. It is one of several instances throughout the Morgan where an artist has partially inked over some faded images—a common practice sometimes done long after the original construction.[9] While it is the dark ink that initially draws attention, it is the style of the image which holds the greatest curiosity. After having closely surveyed the artistic styles of both the Morgan and Novati, one may see that in this case the places have been reversed. This single image bears nearly every stylistic element of the Novati which had been previously identified in contrast to the Morgan artwork. If it can be said that Morgan 10R (D) was at some point redrawn, it can also be said with confidence that it was done so by none other than the artist of the Pisani-Dossi. In both cases, the hand of the artist is the same. Morgan 10R (D) is displayed below between examples from both the Morgan and the Novati.

Morgan 10R (A), Morgan 10R (D), Morgan 10V (B)

Novati 12A (C), Morgan 10R (D), Novati 18B (D)

Features which set Morgan 10R (D) apart from the rest of the Morgan artwork, and connect it stylistically with the Pisani-Dossi artwork, include the following. Notably: the shape of the feet; the proportion and thickness of the legs, especially at the ankles, calves, and above the knee; the proportion and thickness of the arms, especially at the wrists and elbows; the height of the armpit relative to the shoulder; the shape of the torso above the waistline; the breadth of the shoulders; the treatment of the hair; the pattern of the crosshatching; and perhaps most strikingly, the bold and sporadic roughness of the lines. Details of Morgan 10R (D) alongside similar details from the Novati have been provided below, as well as a grayscale comparison of the Morgan and Novati images to correct for ink color variation.

Head

Novati 6B (F) reversed, Morgan 10R (D), Novati 9A (E)

Torso

Novati 7A (E), Morgan 10R (D), Novati 8B (A)

Upper Limbs

Novati 7B (A) reversed, Morgan 10R (D), Novati 8A (A)

Lower Limbs

Novati 6B (F), Morgan 10R (D), Novati 18B (B)

Grayscale

Morgan 12R (D), Morgan 10R (D), Novati 18B (D)

The evidence presented in the stylistic analysis above supports the initial proposition of this article that the artwork on Novati Carta 13A and Carta 13B is consistent with the style identified in the Morgan manuscript. It also provides evidence that Morgan 10R (D) was drawn by the Pisani-Dossi artist. At face value these observations should not be shocking, since it was common for multiple artists to collaborate on the same manuscript, even to the extent of significant differences in style.[10] However we may infer from the difference in fading of the ink that the drawing attributed here to the Pisani-Dossi artist was likely executed considerably later than the other illustrations in the Morgan. If this is the case, it is also possible that the inclusion of Morgan artwork in the Pisani-Dossi was not due to artistic collaboration, but was simply an inclusion of single leaves executed at an earlier date by another artist—a practice which was not uncommon in the later Middle Ages.[11] It is even possible that they were once part of a larger volume of Fior di Battaglia whose remnants now comprise the Morgan manuscript. This is not unlikely considering that the Morgan appears to be missing many pages, among which are the very plays that are shown on Novati Carta 13A and 13B.[12] Taken together, these propositions strongly suggest that the artist and compiler of the Pisani-Dossi had direct access to the pages now contained in the Morgan manuscript. The following section will examine further evidence that pertains to the accuracy of the Novati facsimile, the degree to which the artist of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript had access to the Morgan manuscript, and their relative order of construction.

Forensic Analysis

This section examines the relevant forensic evidence which has arisen in investigation of Novati Carta 13A and Carta 13B, as well as Morgan Folio 10R (D). It also examines evidence which supports the contention that the Novati facsimile is a close reproduction of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript, as well as evidence which may elucidate the order of construction of the Morgan and Pisani-Dossi manuscripts.

Gold and Silver Leaf

The Flower of Battle is noteworthy for its use of a system of gilded crowns and garters in order to more clearly structure its pedagogy. This feature is visible in all known copies of the treatise, and seems to be unique to the teachings of Fiore dei Liberi.[13] While examples of drawn crowns surface in Die Blume des Kampfes, specifically in MS B.26, they are rare decorations which seem to have lost all pedagogical significance.[14] In addition to this well-known system of gilded crowns and garters, the Morgan manuscript is unique amongst the corpus of The Flower of Battle in that it also identifies masters, scholars, and counters by the application of silver leaf to their weapons. This silver leaf has turned black with oxidation, and is perhaps the most striking and recognizable feature of the manuscript.[15] Shown below are examples of gold and silver leaf application from the Morgan manuscript, and examples of gold leaf application from the Novati facsimile. Note that the drawings from the latter, which have been identified as Morgan artwork, have no silver leaf.

Morgan 16R (B), Morgan 16R (C)

Novati 13A (D), Novati 13B (B)

After surveying the stylistic evidence in the images of Novati Carta 13A and Carta 13B, the analysis has indicated that they were almost certainly drawn by the Morgan artist. As has already been noted, these may have been single leaves which were eventually captioned and gathered into the Pisani-Dossi manuscript, or may have even been drawn from an earlier compilation whose remnants now survive in the Morgan. If this exchanging of pages is granted, then it is likely that the application of the silver leaf to the swords in the Morgan was done at some time after the compilation of the Pisani-Dossi, for while the scholars in Carta 13A and Carta 13B were clearly drawn by the hand of the Morgan artist, their swords lack the now characteristic silver leaf. Moreover, if one considers that Morgan 10R (D) was drawn at a later date by the Pisani-Dossi artist, then it may be reiterated that the application of gold and silver leaf came later, for in Morgan 10R (D) both the gold and silver leaf appear to overlay the newer ink. This is shown in detail below.

Morgan 10R (D)

Rule Marks

The use of vertical and horizontal rule marks to align text and images is a common feature in many original manuscripts.[16] Examples of this can be seen clearly in the digital images of all three original manuscripts of The Flower of Battle currently available to the public.[17] These features are also identifiable in the Novati facsimile.[18] Examples have been provided below.

Getty 18R (A), Getty 18R (B), Getty 23V (C)

Morgan 2V (A), Morgan 2V (A), Morgan 10V (A)

Novati 13A (C), Novati 13A (C), Novati 13A D

Novati 26A (D), Novati 26A (D), Novati 29A (A)

Novati 26A (C, D)

Note the lines drawn in Novati 13A, depicted above. These are evidence of rule marks which were originally drawn to help center the images on each quadrant of the page. Such lines are also faintly visible on many other pages of the Novati, including 15B, 19A, 20B, 21A, 22A, 22B, 26A, and 29A. These lines support the contention that the Novati facsimile is an exact reproduction of the original Pisani-Dossi manuscript.

Ghost Images

Due to the partial translucency of vellum parchment, images from the reverse side of a page will often be visible through the page, especially when light is shown or reflected from behind. This effect is notable in the digital images of the three manuscripts of The Flower of Battle currently available. [19] Examples from the Morgan and Novati have been provided below.

Morgan 10V (C), Morgan 10V (C) reversed, Morgan 10R (D)

Morgan 14R (D), Morgan 14R (D) reversed, Morgan 14V (C)

Novati 13A (D), Novati 13A (D) reversed, Novati 13B (C)

Note the example above from Morgan 10V (C), where the ghost image of a large foot appears below one of the figures. When reversed, one can see that this ghost image corresponds exactly with the foot of the figure on the reverse side of Folio 10. Likewise, Morgan 14R (D) contains the ghost image of a foot showing through from the reverse side of the page. When looking at Novati 13A (D), the same phenomenon is observable. There is the ghost image of a forefoot which, when reversed, can be matched up with the image on the other side of the page.

Novati 21B (D), Novati 21B (D) reversed, Novati 21A C

Novati 33A (D), Novati 33A (D) reversed, Novati 33B (C)

Novati 34A (A), Novati 34A (A) reversed, Novati 34B (A)

The images above provide examples of other ghost images seen throughout the Novati. Note in 21B (D) the very faint image of a bent sword. When reversed, it corresponds with the bent blade on the other side of the page. Novati 33A (D) contains a very faint ghost image of the block of text on Novati 33B (C). Lastly, in Novati 334 (A), a ghost image of crossed lances can be seen. Such ghost images appear on nearly every page, and are especially visible on the print edition, where they are in fact printed faintly in black ink onto the page.[20] Such evidence strongly suggests that the Novati images were reproduced directly with early facsimile technology.

Follicle Marks

True vellum parchment is made of animal hide which has been treated, stretched, and scraped to remove hair and excess skin.[21] As such, it is known to have two sides, the smooth side being from the inside of the animal, and the coarser side from the outside of the animal. The outside, or hair-side of vellum parchment is easily distinguishable by the remnants of hair follicles, which are visible as small dark spots on the page.[22] These follicle marks are visible in the digital images of all three manuscripts currently available. [23] Black dots resembling follicle marks are also clearly printed in ink onto the pages of the Novati facsimile.[24] Examples have been provided below.

Getty 10R (C), Morgan 15R (A)

Novati 15A (B), Novati 20A (D), Novati 26B (D)

While it would require a codicological expert to count the spacing and number of these dots to determine with certainty that they are consistent with animal hair follicles, they are a detail which we would expect to see reproduced in a facsimile reproduction using photogravure or other photo-mechanical technology. Alongside the rule marks and ghost images, these dots—whether the reproduction of follicle marks or other residue—weigh heavily in favor of the proposal that the Novati facsimile is an exact photo-mechanical reproduction of the Pisani-Dossi manuscript.

Handwriting

In returning to Novati Carta 13A with the consideration that the page may have come directly from an earlier volume whose remnants are now contained in the Morgan manuscript, one may venture with caution that at least parts of the Morgan manuscript may originally have been without caption. This possibility becomes clear when comparing the handwriting of Novati Carta 13A both with other writing samples from the Novati, and with samples from the Morgan: despite having ‘Morgan’ artwork on the bottom of the page, Novati Carta 13A is captioned in the hand that captioned the rest of the Pisani-Dossi.[25] Samples have been shown below.

Morgan 14R (A), Novati 13A (A)

Novati 13A (A), Novati 16A (A)

It can be seen immediately that the script on Novati 13A resembles the script from Novati 16A, far more than it resembles the script from Morgan 14R. Some of the specific differences between these scripts will be examined below.

Alignment

Morgan 12V (B), Morgan 14R (A)

Novati 7B (C), Novati 12A (B)

The first difference that jumps out between the respective text of the Morgan and Novati is the variation in precision of alignment. While the text in the Morgan appears aligned in blocks, a close examination shows that the lines of text often deviate significantly from a horizontal orientation.[26] Further, in some cases the spacing between lines or words varies to allow for images which appear to have already been on the page at the time of writing.[27] In contrast, the text in the Novati tends to be more regularly spaced and evenly squared on the page.[28] It deviates very little from a horizontal orientation and uniform spacing, even when crammed tightly between images, as seen above.

Punctuation

Morgan 12V (B), Morgan 14R (A), Novati 7B (C), Novati 11A (C)

Note the execution of the abbreviation “cû” for cum. In the Morgan the carat appears rounded on the top, whereas in the Novati it tends to be pointed.

Morgan 8V (A), Morgan 15V (B), Novati 12B (B), Novati 13A (B)

Note the execution of the punctuation on the “í”. In the Morgan this accent is drawn horizontally, whereas in the Novati it is drawn ascending along a diagonal up and to the right.

Letters

Morgan 14R (A), Morgan 15V (B), Novati 12B (C), Novati 13A (C)

Note the execution of the descenders on the letters “f”, “p”, and “s”. In the Morgan these descend downward roughly perpendicular to the line of the script. In the Novati, they descend at a slight angle downward and to the left. In both cases with ascenders such as on the letter “l”, the same trend is followed. In the Morgan they are mostly vertical, whereas in the Novati they are written with the same angle as the descenders.

Morgan 15V (B), Morgan 17V (B), Novati 11A (C), Novati 13A (A)

Note the execution of the letter “d”. In the Morgan the ascender on the letter slants upward and to the left, with a slight upward hook at the terminal. In the Novati, the ascender on the “d” slants more strongly to the left, and the upward hook tends to be absent or less pronounced.

Morgan 14R (A), Morgan 17V (B), Novati 11A (C), Novati 13A (A)

Note the execution of the letter “g”. In the Morgan the lobe of the “g” forms an open hook upwards that either terminates before it passes the leftmost edge of bowl of the letter, or else terminates in a tail that swoops downward and to the left. In the Novati, the lobe of the “g” descends to form a wide loop that turns upward to connect to the bowl of the letter.

These observations have been cursory, and it is for a forensic typographer to examine them in more detail. However they have presented significant evidence which supports the other findings of this article. On the one hand they have shown differences between the script of the Novati and the Morgan, and on the other they have solidified the connection of the writing on Novati 13A and 13B with that in the rest of the Novati.

Title Page

As remarked above, the handwriting on Novati 13A and 13B can be cross referenced to handwriting throughout the Novati, and shown to be identical. Moreover, if this exercise is continued, one will find this handwriting consistent with that on the title page of the Novati, which is surrounded by marginal illumination.[29] The latter shows intricacies of style and wear that strongly indicate that it is an exact photo-mechanical reproduction. On closer inspection, the handwriting and the illumination appear to be inextricably connected, for in the upper left hand corner the letters are blurred by the same water damage that has disrupted parts of the illumination. Given that this handwriting also matches that in the rest of the Novati, it follows that the script reproduced throughout the Novati must be that of the original scribal hand. Examples are provided below.

Novati 2A

Novati 2A, Novati 16B (B)

Note the line of tonal variation along the top of Novati 2A, which appears to delineate the top edge of a page that has been reproduced onto the printed image. This is may be a product of early photo-mechanical reproduction technology. Some type of damage, possibly due to water, is also visible in the top left corner of the page. This has caused some of the illumination to be blurred, along with some of the letters of the script. Flaking of pigment from the illuminated initial can also be seen here, possibly a result of the same event that damaged the marginal illumination. A detail from the text of Novati 2A is presented above alongside text from Novati 16B (B) for comparison. Compare for example the words cuz, che, spada, and duy, outlined in red. It will be found that, within the normal deviation to be expected of a single hand, the execution of the letters is in fact the same.

Discussion and Conclusion

This article began with the proposition that certain images in the Novati facsimile, namely those on Carta 13A and Carta 13B, bore a strong stylistic resemblance to the illustrations in the Morgan manuscript. It proceeded with an analysis that presented specific examples which highlighted these resemblances. This analysis has left little room to doubt that there is a significant stylistic connection. Moreover, it strongly indicates that the Morgan artist himself illustrated the images in question. The analysis also raised the case of Morgan 10R (D), which with perhaps even greater certainty was shown to have been illustrated by the artist of the Pisani-Dossi. Subsequent evidence pertaining to the application of metallic foil and written script was presented to elucidate the likely order in which these events took place. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the artist of the Pisani-Dossi had direct access to the collection of drawings whose remnants are now contained in the Morgan manuscript, during which time he illustrated an image on Morgan 10R, may have acquired a loose leaf from that same collection, and would almost certainly have reproduced some of its content. The evidence also raises the possibility—given that this loose leaf did not have text prior to the writing of the Pisani-Dossi—that the content of the entire Morgan manuscript may once consisted of images without caption, much like Codex 5278.[30] If this is the case, then the images now in the Morgan may once have served a function similar to certain pattern books, which contained collections of model images intended for reproduction.[31] This interpretation would both account for the compositional similarity between the images of the Pisani-Dossi and the Morgan, while accounting for their significant disparity of textual content. It would also imply an additional source used in the creation of the Pisani-Dossi, either in the form of another manuscript, or an advisor—perhaps the author himself—who was well-versed in Fiore’s Art.

With the expected release of digital images of the Pisani-Dossi, it is of perhaps diminished importance that the evidence presented in this article also suggests that the Novati is an exact facsimile reproduction of the Pisani-Dossi. Nonetheless it is likely to be proven accurate, for even if there were no other evidence, the ability to analyze illustrations in close detail and identify specific artistic styles casts strong doubt on the contention that the Novati images are radically different from their originals. Even if it were accepted that the Novati illustrations were reproduced by hand in 1902, it would have required tracing or copying of incredible diligence to retain the details which have been noted in this article. In addition to stylistic observations, however, this article has presented forensic evidence that would render the possibility that the Novati was hand-drawn by a modern artist incredibly unlikely. The release of the Pisani-Dossi images should be anticipated with this caution, for while further detail and forensic evidence may become available, it is likely that the content will not be radically different or more extensive than what Francesco Novati has already made available. If this proves to be the case, the wordless testaments of ink and foil will have to be plumbed to their fullest depths in order to more fully understand what is left of The Flower of Battle.

Suggestions for Further Research

The conclusions of this article, if granted, would open up innumerable doorways for further research. One such avenue which is currently being investigated is the possibility of artistic duplication across the extant manuscripts of The Flower of Battle. Such research would profit immensely from a greater understanding of the order of construction of each manuscript, and the extent of the source material available to their respective artists. This article has sought to elucidate precisely these relationships.

[1] Novati, Flos Duellatorum, p. 143-144.

[2] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383).

[3] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383).

[4] Ibid., fol. 9r, 9v, 10v, 12r, 13r, 14v.

[5] Ibid., fol. 3r-9v, 11v, 16v

[6] Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (MS Latin 11269).

[7] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383).

[8] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383), fol. 10r.

[9] Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 39.

[10] Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 47, 95.

[11] Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 36.

[12] While these plays are indeed represented in the Morgan, the illustrations on folio 17v are clearly drawn by a different artist. They closely match the corresponding images in MS Ludwig XV 13 fol. 20r and 20v, and may have been drawn by that artist or a very diligent copyist. The same is the case with the image on Morgan 19R, which closely corresponds to the image on MS Ludwig XV 13 fol. 21v, with the inclusion of many armor elements from that manuscript; Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383), fol. 17v.

[13] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS Ludwig XV 13); Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383); Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (MS Latin 11269); Novati, Flos Duellatorum.

[14] Ludwig von Eyb, Kriegsbuch, 1500 (MS B.26), fol. 21r, 31v, 33r.

[15] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383).

[16] Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 40.

[17] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS Ludwig XV 13); Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383); Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (MS Latin 11269).

[18] Novati, Flos Duellatorum.

[19] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS Ludwig XV 13); Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383); Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (MS Latin 11269).

[20] Novati, Flos Duellatorum.

[21] Mumford, Codex Sinaiticus

[22] Ibid.

[23] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS Ludwig XV 13); Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383); Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (MS Latin 11269).

[24] Novati, Flos Duellatorum.

[25] Novati, Flos Duellatorum, p. 143-144.

[26] Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (MS M.383).

[27] Ibid., fol. 6r, 7r, 9r, 10v, 11r, 12v, 14r, 14v, 15r, 15v, 17v, 18r, 18v.

[28] Novati, Flos Duellatorum.

[29] Novati, Flos Duellatorum, p. 121.

[30] Unknown, ca. 1428 (Codex 5278).

[31] Alexander, Medieval Illuminators, p. 110-111.

Bibliography

Primary sources

Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS Ludwig XV 13). Retrieved July 2016, in Getty, online: <http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/132284/fiore-furlan-dei-liberi-da-premariacco-aiming-points-on-the-body-italian-about-1410/>

Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia, ca. 1409 (New York City, Pierport Morgan Library, MS M.383). Retrieved July 2016, in Morgan, online: <http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/1/77302>

Fiore dei Liberi, Florius de Arte Luctandi, 1401-1500 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Latin 11269). Retrieved July 2016, in BnF, online: <http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8514426f/f2.item>

Fiore dei Liberi, Flos Duellatorum, 1409 (Pisani-Dossi MS). Retrieved July 2016, in Wiktenauer, online: <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Flos_Duellatorum_(Pisani_Dossi_MS>

Ludwig von Eyb, Kriegsbuch, 1500 (Nürnberg, Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen-Nürnberg, MS B.26). Retrieved July 2016, in UB, online: <http://digital.bib-bvb.de/view/bvbmets/viewer.0.5.jsp?folder_id=0&dvs=1471308104969~451&pid=4555786&locale=en&usePid1=true&usePid2=true>

Unknown, ca. 1428 (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Codex 5278). Retrieved July 2016, in Wiktenauer, online: <http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Die_Blume_des_Kampfes_(Cod.5278)>

Secondary literature

Alexander, Jonathan J.G., Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992).

John Mumford and others, Recording the physical features of Codex Sinaiticus, (London, The British Library). Retrieved July 2016, online: <http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/project/conservation_physDesc.aspx>

Novati, Francesco, Flos Duellatorum in Armis, Sine Armis, Equester, Pedester; Il Fior di Battagli di Maestro Fiore dei Liberi da Premariacco, (Bergamo: Instituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, 1902).

Jay Leccese
Jay Leccese is an independent researcher focusing on close study of the illustrations in the four extant manuscripts of The Flower of Battle, as well as the three manuscripts collectively referred to as Die Blume des Kampfes.