Frontispiece to a Ducale, issued by the Doge of Venice, Andreas Gritti. Venice, c. 1523-

DUCALE  (1530.)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.


On recto text set within a wide border on all four sides of foliage and flowers in pale blue and brown highlighted with gold and white tracery all set on deep blue background; upper border showing the lion of St Mark, symbol of Venice, side border with oval portrait of St. Sebastian, the arms of the Contarini family in lower border against a landscape background; first four lines of text written in gold against a deep magenta background, one small initial "C" in gold against a green background.

Size of leaf: 235 x 150mm. 14 (recto) & 24 (verso) lines of text in a neat humanistic hand.

The frontispiece of a Ducale, presented to Sebastiano Contarini by Andreas Gritti (1455-1538), Doge of Venice from 1523 to 1538. Each Ducale recorded a commission authorised by the Doge and was usually finely illuminated and bound in an elaborate morocco binding; they are found from the beginning of the 16th century to the end of the 17th century, this being an early example. The oval portrait of St Sebastian in the border is a nod to the name of the Ducale's recipient, Sebastiano.

This ducal commission appoints Contarini to govern the island of Kephalonia for two years, which Venice had taken control of from the Turks in 1500 and would rule until the eighteenth century. In 1504, a treaty gave Venice control of the island; thus while the rest of Greece was ruled by the Turks, the Ionian islands were governed by the Venetians, who granted tax exemptions and land to settlers from Turkish controlled areas. Scant surviving records suggest that Contarini appears to have held several diplomatic posts in Venetian-owned territories; a record of one of his previous appointments is preserved in a recently discovered painting by Vittore Carpaccio of "Sebastiano Contarini's entry into Capodistria [now Koper, Slovenia] as Podesta", dated 1517. The present document outlines the role, the remuneration, and the conditions of his appointment, including forbidding owning possessions there or marrying a local inhabitant. 

The Contarini family was one of the 12 families who elected the first doge of Venice in 697. Its members - men of letters, painters, statesmen and soldiers (seven of whom fought at Lepanto) - included several doges, from Domenico (1043-73), who rebuilt St. Mark's, to Alvise (1676-84). Andrea Contarini, also Doge between 1367 and 1382, ended the war between Venice and Genoa by reconquering Chioggia. Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542), Bishop of Bologna and a diplomat, was made a cardinal by Pope Paul III in 1535. He was Venetian ambassador to the Diet of Worms in 1521, accompanying Charles V on his travels, and concluding the Emperor's alliance with Venice in 1523. As papal legate at the Diet of Ratisbon in 1541, he tried to effect a reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics. Giovanni Contarini (1549-1605) was a Venetian painter of portraits and historical pictures.

Remnants of tape on verso; some unobtrusive areas of wear to border floral design..

Stock Code: 246301

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