(active 1325-1350 in Florence)

Libro del Biadaiolo

Manuscript (Tempi 3), 385 x 270 mm
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence

This manuscript is entitled the Libro del Biadaiolo or Specchio umano (Mirror of Humanity). The text, which was written by the grain merchant Domenico Lenzi, documents grain prices and the resulting human consequences for the years 1320 to 1330 in Florence. The biadaiolo, or grain merchant, was an effective witness to this period, which was one of both prosperity and recurring famine; it was also chronicled by Giovanni Villani (c. 1275-1348).

The manuscript is illustrated by nine miniatures and one decorated initial. The illuminator of the manuscript is named the Biadaiolo Master after this manuscript. The Master records the events with much topical detail, and particular care is taken to portray accurately such scenes as the open-air grain market in Piazza Orsanmichele and the skylines of Siena and Florence. This pictorial precision, with the Master's narrative abilities, makes the scenes instructive yet charming.

Recent studies concluded that the works attributed to the Biadaiolo Master, datable to c. 1325-35, should be considered instead as the early production of the Master of the Dominican Effigies, whose documented career spans the period c. 1328-50.

The miniature on folio 7 depicts the Orsanmichele market in times of plenty.