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Walter Christopher. Hugo Buchthal, Historia Troiana. Studies in the History of Mediaeval Secular Illustration. Dr Hugo Buchthal is principally concerned in this study with two illuminated manuscripts of the Historia destructionis Troiae composed by Guido de Columnis in Sicily in the latter part of the xmth century. These manuscripts, one now in Madrid Matrit. A comparison of the two manuscripts reveals a number of curious points. Stylistically very different, they use a common iconography for many scenes.
Dr Buchthal can therefore postulate with confidence a common archetype. The Bodmer manuscript is closer to this archetype both in the number and in the fidelity and position relative to the text of the scenes. Grouping together the scenes which differ in the Madrid manuscript, Dr Buchthal notices that they have a common resemblance to early Christian models ; he goes even further and argues the case for these models being the miniatures of the Vienna Genesis Vindob.
Having already established a relationship between the Madrid manuscript and works commissioned by the Doge Andrea Dandolo , such as the mosaics in the. Baptistery of San Marco and the pala feriale, Dr Buchthal now advances the hypothesis that this manuscript was also commissioned by Andrea Dandolo.
This hypothesis is plausible, the more so that Dr Buchthal can situate ideologically such a commission. The Veneti claimed to be the descendants of the Trojans. It was natural that the Venetians, as rivals of the Greeks, should exploit this legend, and that, as a political parvenu, the Doge should endow his family with a neo-antique history of its ancestors. Analogous cases among the industrial princelings of the xixth century are manifold. The chief value for Byzantinists of this study is Dr Buchthal's clear demonstration that an early Byzantine model available in Venice in the xmth century was actually used by a miniaturist.
He adds yet another piece to the dossier concerning the artistic exchanges between Byzantium and the West. In the particular context of Venice he shows that the use of the Cotton Bible or a relative somewhat earlier as a model for the Genesis mosaics at San Marco was not an isolated instance, but part of a coherent and continuous programme of endowing the city with a past.
However I regret that Dr Buchthal has not developed further his ideas as to the different ways that such exchanges took place. In this last case I must demur. Even if the general statement is correct, the particular examples occur in the part of the Madrid Skylitzes which is far removed from its Byzantine model cf. The difficulty in establishing the connection between Eastern and Western chronicle illumination has always been the lack of surviving Byzantine models.
But it is now clear that in Byzantine illumination there was no strict distinction between the topoi to be used in art that was sacred and in art that was profane.
The fact that we have in the Madrid Guido a possible example of Old Testament models being used for chronicle illustration invites further research into the relations between other Western illuminated chronicles and Byzantine Old Testament manuscripts. Christopher Walter.
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Walter Christopher. Hugo Buchthal, Historia Troiana. Studies in the History of Mediaeval Secular Illustration. Dr Hugo Buchthal is principally concerned in this study with two illuminated manuscripts of the Historia destructionis Troiae composed by Guido de Columnis in Sicily in the latter part of the xmth century.
Medéia / Hipólito / As Troianas