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Vitae duodecim Caesarum: MS McClean 162

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Vitae duodecim Caesarum


Author: Suetonius
Scribe: Milanus Burrus




PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, ii modern paper flyleaves + i contemporary parchment flyleaf + 188 fols. + ii contemporary parchment flyleaves + ii modern paper flyleaves, 214 x 145 mm (125 x 75 mm), 29 long lines, ruled in pale brown ink, catchwords, numerical quire marks, leaf signatures, running titles

BINDING: Late nineteenth century, dark blue gold-tooled morocco over wooden boards, red and gilt edges, by Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf (1853–1930).

fol. 1r Ausonius, De duodecim Caesaribus, section I (Prete 1978, 202)
fols. 1r-188v Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Vitae duodecim Caesarum

DECORATION: Three full-page miniatures (out of an original twelve), each the size of the written space, framed in gold, red and black, with full-length portraits of Emperors, to mark the start of each vita: fol. 153r Otho, holding a wand, standing on a marbled green ground against a background of blue with white crosses, partially rubbed off; fol. 164v Vespasian in full plate armour, his head in profile, holding a sword and city (Jerusalem), standing on a red ground against blue background; fol. 178v Domitian in plate armour and cloak, holding a sword, standing on marbled red ground against a pink background.

ORNAMENTATION: Two ornamental initials with heraldic elements on indented gold grounds: fol. 1r [A, 9 ll.], letter formed by a pair of compasses on an indented gold ground with coloured vine-stem interlace and silver scroll with motto SIC NECESSE EST, extending into a full floral border, with a crowned IHC monogram in gold in the upper margin, and on a splayed cloth, a shield with the arms of Gian Matteo Bottigella, surmounted by the crest of a female hybrid holding the emblem of compass and scroll, a knotted cloth, and the initials IM in gold, flanked by two trees on rocky outcrops, each with a horn-playing putto, in the lower margin; fol. 145r [P, 12 ll.], letter formed by a knife and curved fish in blue with a barrel hanging from its neck, and coloured vine-scroll; ten coloured vine-scroll initials (out of an original eleven) [9-14 ll.] in graded yellow, green, pink or blue on indented and punched gold grounds (fols. 26r, 63r, 107r, 124r, 145r, 154r, 158r, 165r, 174r, 179r), for book divisions; pen-flourished initials [3 ll.], alternately blue with red pen-flourishing and gold with purple pen-flourishing, for minor text divisions; rubrics in red Byzantinising capitals (Zaggia 1995, 4; Zaggia 1997, 153-54).


History note: Gian Matteo Bottigella (doc. 1443-1479), secretary to Filippo Maria Visconti; Leo Olschki; purchased from him by Frank McClean (1837-1904) in 1892; his bequest, 1904

Place(s) associated

  • Milan

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: ut per ocium ac requiem
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 162
Primary reference Number: 176587
Project ID: 475
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 19 June 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Vitae duodecim Caesarum" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-14 03:26:52

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