The Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus’s royal library as the collection of a renaissance/humanist ruler was enriched not only with works ordered or purchased in Italy but also with manuscripts made in Buda. Most recent investigations suggest that illumining and copying activity started in the Buda court only after the arrival of Queen Beatrice (1476).
The paper is concerned with one of the marked illuminator figures of the Buda workshop labelled – for want of real identification – as “the first emblazoner”. (His figure was first outlined by Edith Hoffmann in the 1920s, who also verified that he had been trained in Florence.) So far modest floral ornaments and Matthias’s coat of arms had been attributed to this illuminator, in addition to two voluminous manuscripts, the Alberti Corvina in Modena and the Ambrosius Corvina in Paris (Modena, BEU, ms.Lat.419; Paris, BnF, Cod. Latin 1767).
The paper sheds light on the illuminator’s figure embedded in a broader context and viewed from a new angle. The novel aspect is the differentiation between the illuminator’s own style and style imitation. The author managed to demonstrate that the master did not only create his own style but occasionally imitated the style of others. Accordingly, the first half of the study analyses the illuminator’s own style in detail, and the second half discusses his work with the method of imitation. The basis for the examination of the latter is the Ransanus manuscript (Bp. OSZK, cod. Lat. 249) in which the master’s hand imitating a certain Franco-Flemish style can be safely identified.
While explicating the above topics, the author also proposes new ideas about the genesis and localization of two important corvina manuscripts. She proves that the Philostratus (Bp., OSZK, Cod. Lat. 417) and Ransanus Corvinae so-far believed to have been made in Florence and Southern Italy were actually produced in the Buda workshop. The author uses all aspects of codicological research in her argumentation. This is the first time during the research that a scribe figure is also delineated who worked in the Buda workshop at the very end of the 1480s. The Beda Corvina as well as Nagylucsei’s Psalter (Venice, BNM, Lat. VIII. 2=2796; Munich, BSB, Clm 175; Budapest, OSZK, Cod. Lat. 369) are by his hand. The Philostratus Corvina can be attributed to a scribe who imitated him fairly closely.
The author concludes that the working method of the “first emblazoner” (idiosyncratic and imitated styles) and his role in different codices epitomize the functioning of the Buda workshop. She opines that the structure of the workshop was based on the parallel activity and occasional collaboration of outstanding and lesser masters. It is almost self-evident to infer from her reasoning that the Florentine illuminator Boccardino il Vecchio possibly decorated the Philostratus Corvina in Buda. The author points out that the inner initials of the manuscript are not by Boccardino il Vecchio but by a lesser figural painter. One of the secondary initials is clearly the copy of a Francesco Rosselli half-figure type. This phenomenon locates the second hand (“first emblazoner”?) to Buda. (Rosselli worked in Buda in 1479/80, his works were included in the Buda library, too.) The fact that a lesser master had a role in such an exquisite manuscript is ascribed by the author to the structure of the Buda workshop.
At the same time the paper also raises the question of the contribution of the “second emblazoner” within the Corvina Library and concludes that the Ransanus manuscript is the joint work of the “first” and “second emblazoners” in Buda (working on the codex with time lags).
The author reflects upon the long-standing question of dating the two heraldic painters and adduces important data to support the earlier also proposed hypothesis that the first and second emblazoners worked parallel, and their work coincided with the comprehensive development and unification of the Buda library at the very end of the 1480s.