Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Apulegio volgare (Apuleius in the Vernacular): Signature E2v
    Author: Lucius Apuleius
    Translator: Matteo Maria Boiardo
    Venice: Nicolo daristotele da Ferrara & Vincenzo de Polo da Venetia, 1519, 2d ed. (1st ed., 1518)
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 5 7/8 x 3 15/16 x 13/16 in. (15 x 10.5 x 2 cm)
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.608.1)

    Boiardo's popular translation of Apuleius' Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass), which originated in the Ferrarese court in the 1470s at the request of Ercole I d'Este, was only supplanted in 1549, when a new translation by Agnolo Firenzuola appeared.

    The late classical work of Apuleius tells of the misadventures of a young man who, attempting to use magic in order to fly, is accidentally transformed into an ass. In this illustration, poor Lucius is punished for having escaped from the robbers who stole him. The narrator (Lucius) tells us that he would have been beaten to death if not for the malodorous aftermath—suggested in cartoon fashion in this illustration—of the vegetable feast he had enjoyed during his brief period of freedom.

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  • Apulegio volgare (Apuleius in the Vernacular): Signature E2v
    Author: Lucius Apuleius
    Translator: Matteo Maria Boiardo
    Venice: Nicolo daristotele da Ferrara & Vincenzo de Polo da Venetia, 1519, 2d ed. (1st ed., 1518)
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 5 7/8 x 3 15/16 x 13/16 in. (15 x 10.5 x 2 cm)
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.608.1)

    Apulegio volgare (Apuleius in the Vernacular): Signature g4
    Author: Lucius Apuleius
    Translator: Matteo Maria Boiardo
    Venice: Nicolo daristotele da Ferrara & Vincenzo de Polo da Venetia, 1519, 2d ed. (1st ed., 1518)
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    5 7/8 x 3 15/16 x 13/16 in. (15 x 10.5 x 2 cm)
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.608.1)

    The Metamorphoses of Apuleius was the primary source for the story of Cupid and Psyche, which became such a popular subject for paintings and decorations in the Renaissance. Although Cupid (Eros) featured in many myths of great antiquity, and Psyche had appeared in Greek art as an embodiment of the soul, the fairy tale account of Cupid's love for and marriage to a mortal princess seems to have been largely a fabrication of the entertaining yet learned Apuleius. The tale is presented as a story told by an old woman to a beautiful maiden kidnapped by bandits

    Apulegio volgare (Apuleius in the Vernacular): Signature p2v
    Author: Lucius Apuleius
    Translator: Matteo Maria Boiardo
    Venice: Nicolo daristotele da Ferrara & Vincenzo de Polo da Venetia, 1519, 2d ed. (1st ed., 1518)
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    5 7/8 x 3 15/16 x 13/16 in. (15 x 10.5 x 2 cm)
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.608.1)

    Possessed of a human brain, Lucius was able to do much that was beyond the capacity of a normal donkey. His owner recognized that money could be made from these talents and was soon charging admission to see the amazing ass who could dance and understand human language. Here Lucius is caressed by a noblewoman who, after paying to see his usual tricks, conceived a passion for him and bribed the keeper into letting her spend the night.


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