SANVITO, Bartolomeo
(b. ca. 1435, Padova, d. ca. 1518, Padova)


Italian scribe and illuminator. He was also the most important humanist scribe in Padua, whose monumental epigraphic style was influential also in Rome and Naples. He is first documented as 'scriptor' at the end of the 1450s in Padua, where he was in contact with academic circles and in particular with Bernardo Bembo (1422-1519), a Venetian patrician, who in those years was a student in Padua and for whom Sanvito produced splendid manuscripts (e.g. the Oratio gratulatoria, British Library, London, Add. MS. 14787). In these, as in other works executed in Padua in the late 1450s and early 1460s, script and decoration were revived in a humanist and antiquarian vein, aimed at recreating the Classical codex.

From 1469 to 1501 Sanvito was in Rome at the papal court, where he transcribed numerous books, some signed with the monogram B.S., for such illustrious patrons as the humanist Bartolomeo Sacchi or il Platina (1421-81) and cardinals Francesco Gonzaga and Giovanni d'Aragona (1456-85). Sanvito's writing, recognizable by certain graphic features and other idiosyncrasies, clearly shows his role in the spread of italic script, a cursive variant of the 'littera antiqua'. Another feature of his work is the inclusion of beautiful tituli in gold, red, blue and green capital letters, which reveal his knowledge of Latin epigraphic script, partly acquired through his friendship with the Veronese epigraphist Fra Giovanni Giocondo. In later codices, beginning in the 1490s, Sanvito's writing appears shaky as a result of arthritis.

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