Algorithmic Drawing

Great art is not all about channeling emotion. It's also technique and following algorithms. The artist employed for the drawings in a 14th-century Italian manuscript of Virgil's Aeneid - the codex has just been digitized by the Vatican Library - reveals all too clearly his methodical approach in two drawings on the same page:

At top of the margin on folio 36v is a deer and below is a hare, illustrating the account of the hunt of Dido and Aeneas (IV, 117). John Murdoch comments in his Album of Science volume on antiquity and the Middle Ages, 204 (Scribner, 1984):
All of the animals are drawn in standard, unpretentious profile poses. Those standing on their hind legs are quite similar in overall form. [These two] are not merely similar, but almost identical. All one needed to do to transform the deer at top into the hare below was to replace the antlers with ears. One is tempted to think that the artist employed instructions from a model book that explained how to draw any number of animals with minimal change.
The pictures are undoubtedly interesting, though, showing garments and architecture of the 14th century in great detail, for example a contemporary Italian town:

Here are the main novelties on the Vatican Library digital portal from the past week:
  1. Borg.ar.279
  2. Borg.pers.15, a singularity, being a Latin-Persian dictionary, which was compiled by Ignazio de Jesus, ODC, used a bastard script and never got past manuscript stage. Anthony Grafton comments on this Dictionarium latino persicum in the Rome Reborn catalog:
    The Italian missionary priest Ignazio de Jesus (died 1667) dedicated this Latin-Persian dictionary to Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1607-1681), Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the new division of the curia in charge of missionary efforts. Unlike the author's Persian grammar, this dictionary was not printed. Father Ignazio lists Latin words alphabetically in the first column, gives the Persian equivalent in a Roman script transliteration (representing sounds not in the Roman alphabet by the addition of diacritic marks derived from the Persian version of the Arabic alphabet), and finally gives the Persian written form.
    Here is abacus to start the letter A:
  3. Urb.lat.1779
  4. Vat.copt.98
  5. Vat.lat.905
  6. Vat.lat.1245
  7. Vat.lat.1246
  8. Vat.lat.1338
  9. Vat.lat.1381
  10. Vat.lat.1383, Bernardo Bottoni's legal commentary with Juvenal interspersed. The arbor juris drawings are incomplete. The scribe never got round to writing in the kinship terms. But curiously the artist did draw the generic ego or Everyman who is the starting point of all the degrees of relationship:
  11. Vat.lat.1392
  12. Vat.lat.1399
  13. Vat.lat.1401
  14. Vat.lat.1404
  15. Vat.lat.1406
  16. Vat.lat.1446
  17. Vat.lat.1470
  18. Vat.lat.1485
  19. Vat.lat.1496
  20. Vat.lat.1523
  21. Vat.lat.1527
  22. Vat.lat.2761, see above regarding fol 36v
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 111. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

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