Music for the Eyes: Manuscripts from the Frank Cooper Facsimile Collection
Music for the Eyes: Facsimiles: Squarcialupi Codex

Squarcialupi Codex

Squarcialupi Codex

The largest anthology of Florentine music of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Squarcialupi Codex is without equal in both content and ornamentation. It contains over 350 pieces of music, 150 of which are unique to this manuscript. Pieces in the codex are arranged chronologically by composer, with some pages left blank for the later addition of works. Each composer’s entry is accompanied by a full-color portrait of the composer, illuminated in gold. It is named after its former owner, Antonio Squarcialupi, who is eulogized on one of the original flyleaves. This reproduction, one of a limited edition of 998 copies, recreates both the detailed script of the music and text and the gold-illuminated images of the composers. It is an enormously significant addition to our collection.

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Gherardello da Firenze

This example shows the portrait page of Gherardello da Firenze. Sixteen of Gherardello’s compositions are preserved in the codex. The design of this page is typical for the code: at the top, a cherub points to the composer’s name, written in Latin (as “Ghirardellus de Florentia”) across both leaves, with floral and other whimsical designs as further decoration. At the bottom of the left page, a black hound pursues a deer.

Lorenzo da Firenze

Lorenzo da Firenze, who composed seventeen of the works in this codex, appears in this example. Halfway down the page, two red birds can be seen, peeking from the top of the large blue flower. At the bottom of the page, a young woman picks flowers in a meadow, illustrating the text of the piece (“She has gone to Paradise”).

Paolo Tenorista

The codex remains unfinished, with some composers’ portraits adorning empty pages. Paolo Tenorista, also referred to as “Paulus, Abbes de Florentia,” is one such example. In his portrait, Paolo wears the traditional black robes of a Benedictine monk, as he sits listening to one of his students. Scholars have determined that, while no music appears on Paolo’s pages, his contribution is still quite significant: he compiled a collection of the compositions that eventually appeared in this codex.

Francesco Landini

The vivid colors and brilliant gold ornamentation of the codex is readily apparent in this example, an enlargement of the portrait of Francesco Landini, who composed nearly half of the works included in the codex. Landini, whose name as given in the codex translates to “the blind organist from Florence,” is pictured with a portative, a small, portable pipe organ which frequently appears in artwork of the 14th and 15th centuries. His portrait is unique in the codex, because it is decorated with gold-ornamented musical instruments among the floral designs.