Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Laurentian Library)
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Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Laurentian Library)
Florence, Italy


Piazza San Lorenzo n9
50123 Firenze, Italy

Phone: +39 055 214443
Fax: +39 055 2302992

Manuscripts: Dr. Ida Giovanna Rao


"The importance of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, with its collection of nearly 11,000 manuscripts, is based mainly on two converging factors, both extraordinary: the specific nature of the Librarys holdings and the character of its building, which was planned and partly realized by Michelangelo Buonarroti.The story of this Library, from its core collection - the Medicis private library - to the various acquisitions which followed, has in fact been influenced by a constant aim, viz. the possession of books of a highly textual or esthetical quality.

Amongst the treasures of the Laurenziana are listed some of the most ancient or unique manuscripts containing Tacitus, Pliny, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Quintilian, the codex of Vergil, corrected in 494 by Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius, and the oldest extant copy of Justinians Corpus Iuris, copied just after its promulgation. The Laurenziana also preserves one of the three complete collections of Platos Dialogi in so-called carta bona, given by Lorenzo il Magnifico to Marsilio Ficino to translate, the Squarcialupi codex, the only existing source for the study of profane music between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, some autographs of Petrarch and Boccaccio, the Storie by Guicciardini with notes by the author as well as the autograph biography of Benvenuto Cellini." - library web site

"Ashburnham collection: The holding consists of approximately 2,000 manuscripts once belonging to the mathematician and bibliophile Guglielmo Libri (1809-1869) who sold them in 1847 to Lord Bertram, fourth Count of Ashburnham. After the latter died in 1878, the Italian government bought the library and gave it to the Laurenziana in 1884. Most Ashburnham exemplars can be dated well before the eighteenth century and are often of Italian origin. Some of these codices had been stolen by Libri from various libraries in Italy and elsewhere." - library web site

"The Laurentian Library, Florence, is located in the cloister of S. Lorenzo. The library itself is a long room with reading desks, well lit by rows of windows between pilasters which correspond to the beams of the ceiling. This reposeful and clearly articulated space is preceded by a much taller monumental vestibule of square plan, almost entirely filled by an extraordinary staircase (executed by Ammanati 1559-), spilling from the library door and multiplying into three flights of stairs, of which the outer two are hardly usable. The vestibule walls are particularly unorthodox; paired columns rising from insubstantial volutes are recessed behind the white plaster wall surface from which project tabernacle niches with pilasters perversely widening towards their capitals." -Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. p888.

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