Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Hystoria di due amanti (Tale of Two Lovers), ca. 1500
    Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Italian, Sienese, 1405–1464)
    Alessandro Braccesi (1445–1503), translator
    Published Florence: Piero Pacini da Pescia
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 8 1/16 x 5 11/16 x 3/8 in. (20.5 x 14.5 x 1 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1925 (25.30.17)

    Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who ascended to the papacy as Pope Pius II (r. 1458–64), wrote this tale of adultery in 1444 before taking holy orders (the original was written in Latin). It may have been based on a true incident that took place in Siena. The narrative circulated widely both in manuscript and then in numerous published editions after the pope's death. The tragic and rather cynical tone of the Latin text is lightened with a happy ending in the Italian version, culminating in a splendid marriage and large family. This book is probably the first illustrated edition. Some of the woodcuts may actually have been reused from other books, as was often the case in Pacini's press.

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  • Hystoria di due amanti (Tale of Two Lovers), ca. 1500
    Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Italian, Sienese, 1405–1464)
    Alessandro Braccesi (1445–1503), translator
    Published Florence: Piero Pacini da Pescia
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 8 1/16 x 5 11/16 x 3/8 in. (20.5 x 14.5 x 1 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1925 (25.30.17)

    Storia di due amanti (Tale of Two Lovers): The Letter (signature b2r)
    Author: Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) (1405–1464)
    Florence: Pacini, [ca. 1495]
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    8 1/16 x 5 11/16 x 3/8 in. (20.5 x 14.5 x 1 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1925 (25.30.17)

    Here Euryalus, no longer able to restrain himself from contacting the beautiful Lucretia, entrusts a letter to a procuress. Lucretia, seen at the end of the hall as if they inhabited the same palace, will claim to be offended and tear the letter into tiny pieces. As soon as the procuress leaves, however, she will reassemble the pieces and read the letter and enclosed sonnet with delight.

    The play with bold black and white patterns is characteristic of Florentine woodcut illustrations, as is the shading accomplished through rows of parallel lines. The attraction between the lovers is suggested through the plunging perspective of the tiled

    Storia di due amanti (Tale of Two Lovers): The Lovers Surprised (signature c8r)
    Author: Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) (1405–1464)
    Florence: Pacini, [ca. 1495]
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    8 1/16 x 5 11/16 x 3/8 in. (20.5 x 14.5 x 1 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1925 (25.30.17)

    This illustration appears in the text near the account of the lovers' first clandestine meeting, which was interrupted by the untimely return of the old man to whom Lucretia was married. He did not catch them, for Lucretia cleverly hid Euryalus in a chest. The woodcut may represent the servant warning the two lovers of the approach of Menelaus. In fact, the image—charming as it is—does not seem to quite fit the story, and may have been reused from another publication.


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