Painted Renaissance volumes on view at Yale’s Beinecke Library

Mar 16, 2019 833

BY: Mike Cummings

dozen volumes on display at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library are shelved side-by-side with their fore edges, not their spines, facing out. It is not a case of curatorial malpractice — far from it. Those exposed fore edges form a gallery of miniature paintings from the Renaissance era — portraits of the volumes’ celebrated authors or scenes that suggest their subject matter.

The books were part of a lavish library that belonged to the Pillone family, who owned a large estate in Belluno, Italy, north of Venice. In the 1580s, Odorico Pillone, a prominent jurist, commissioned the artist Cesare Vecellio, a distant cousin of the Renaissance master Titian, to decorate a selection of the family’s books. 

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