- Federica Toniolo
Italian illuminator. He is mentioned as an illuminator, with Bartolomeo Sanvito, in Rome, in the will (1483) of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga. In 1485 he was in Rome in the service of the Neapolitan cardinal Giovanni d’Aragona (1456–85). He can be identified with the Gasparo Romano mentioned by Pietro Summonte in a letter of 20 March 1524 to Marcantonio Michiel as the illuminator ‘al garbo antiquo’ (in the antique manner) of a copy of Pliny (untraced) for Giovanni d’Aragona. The same source stated that Gasparo was also an architect and that his style was copied by Giovanni Todeschino (fl Naples, 1487–1500).
There are no documented works by Gasparo. His Paduan origin, his presence in Rome and his relationship with Sanvito make it likely that he was one of the illuminators who propagated in Rome the antiquarian, classicizing style that originated in Padua and the Veneto region (see Venice §III, 1). Scholars have tentatively identified Gasparo with two anonymous illuminators, the Master of the Berlin St Jerome (Berlin, Kupferstichkab., MS. 78 D. 13) and the Master of the Vatican Homer (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. gr. 1626). In both cases the artists, who are presumed to have come from the Veneto region, worked during the 1480s and 1490s on commissions from Giovanni d’Aragona as well as those mentioned above. The manuscripts of the Master of the Vatican Homer have also been attributed to Sanvito or Lauro Padovano. Those of the St Jerome master, on the other hand, for example a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 8016), have recently been ascribed to the Master of the London Pliny (London, BL, MS. IC. 19662). These works influenced manuscript illumination in Naples and might, therefore, have been executed by Gasparo. Decorated with architectural frontispieces and antiquarian motifs of gems, pearls and cameos, they are characterized by refined metallic tones based on blues, mauves and gold.
- J. J. G. Alexander: ‘Notes on Some Veneto-Paduan Illuminated Books of the Renaissance’, Arte veneta, 23 (1969), pp. 9–20
- J. Ruysschaert: ‘Miniaturistes “romains” à Naples’, La biblioteca napoletana dei re d’Aragona: Supplemento, ed. T. de Marinis, 1 (Verona, 1969), pp. 263–74
- A. Putaturo Murano: ‘Ipotesi per Gasparo Romano miniatore degli Aragonesi’, Archv. Stor. Prov. Napoletane, 14 (1975–6), pp. 95–100
- L. Armstrong: Renaissance Miniature Painters and Classical Imagery: The Master of the Putti and his Venetian Workshop (London, 1981), pp. 40–49
- The Painted Page: Italian Renaissance Book Illumination, 1450–1550 (exh. cat., ed. J. J. G. Alexander; London, RA, 1994)