Yates Thompson 36
The British Library's Yates Thompson 36 is one of the finest Italian illuminated manuscripts of the Comedy The codex was produced in Siena during the middle of the 15th century. While there are no details concerning who commissioned this work, the codex belonged to Alfonso V, king of Aragon, Naples, and Sicily. The codex includes 110 large miniatures and three historiated initials. Consisting of rectangular miniatures, each illumination is surrounded by an ornamental border which varies in design. Priamo della Quercia executed the illuminations for the Inferno and Purgatorio and all three historiated initials, Giovanni di Paolo those for Paradiso. This makes for two distinctly different styles: Priamo's work reflects the more realistic style of late fifteenth-century Florentine painting, an influence which is particularly noticeable in his use of contours and outlines in the depiction of nudes. Giovanni di Paolo's style is closer to that of late fourteenth-century Sienese artists. His illustrations of the Paradiso are greatly admired for their visual interpretation of the poem: the artist doesn't just transcribe Dante's words but seeks to render their meaning. Reproduced below are 66 of the codex's 115 illuminations.
Suggested reading: A Sienese Codex of the Divine Comedy, ed. John Pope-Hennessy (Oxford and London: Phaidon, 1947.)