Document of the della Rovere Dukes of Urbino with their Acorn Sigil


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Imposing initial I with swags of oak leaves and acorns in sepia ink from a document issued by the della Rovere Dukes of Urbino with their acorn sigil. Single cutting on vellum, the remnants of letters visible on the right. Italy, doubtless Urbino, dated 1511: 366 mm x 105 mm. This is the lefthand column of a charter or financial instrument, with the sigil of the della Rovere family, a fabulous, delicate, and large initial I formed of an oak tree with three roots and a crown of leaves and acorns, all wrapped in a banderole. From it emanates a profusion of foliage terminating in large blossoms, acorns, and other foliate designs, mostly imaginary. The whole has been skillfully and beautifully drawn in sepia ink, the same used to produce the charter. The date 1511 has been written in an early modern black ink at the top. This apparent dating suggests that the document was issued by Francesco Maria I della Rovere (d. 1538), Duke of Urbino from 1508. The verso is blank, except for the blue owner’s mark of Fritz Hasselmann, identified by Peter Kidd (initials F H flanking a pyramid emanating beams of light and surmounted by a cross); his sale, Sammlung von alten Pergament Miniaturen; Handzeichnungen; Aquarellen alter und moderner Meister (Munich: Helbing 24 November 1892 lot 276); see: Condition: the document was originally folded, so there are three light creases. The verso has remnants of glue from an earlier mounting, as well as two hinges. Slightly soiled but nevertheless striking.

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