Italian Sixteenth-Century Writing Books and the Scribal Reality of Verona
Rhode Island School of Design
The sixteenth-century copybooks of the Italian writing masters have long been considered to be reflections of the contemporary scribal condition. The impression one gains from reading the works of Arrighi, Taglienti, Palatino, and Cresci, among others, is that cancellaresca was the dominant notarial script of the first half of the century, that cancellaresca formata, developed by Palatino at mid-century, supplanted it, and that Cresci's cancellaresca corsiva reigned supreme at the end. In fact, if we consider the manuscript evidence, specifically the Rosenthal Collection of North Italian Documents at the University of Chicago, we find a very different reality. In sixteenth-century Verona, at least, cancellaresca was a rather uncommon script. Cancellaresca formata indeed appears soon after Palatino's popularization of the script, but it never became popular in Verona. Cresci's claim to have been the inventor of cancellaresca corsiva is undetermined by the script's appearance prior to the publication of his Essemplara (1560). The most common scripts used throughout the century were the italic and the mercantilist. For the common scribes of sixteenth-century Verona, the writing books seem to have had little influence.
“Italian Sixteenth-Century Writing Books and the Scribal Reality of Verona.” Visible Language 20 (1986): 393-412.