© Archivio di Stato di Bologna

Name of Object:

Navis nundinaria (The trading ship)

Also known as:

A ship-shaped theatre for the roast pork feast of 1657


Bologna, Italy

Holding Museum:

Archivio di Stato


1657 July-August

Type of object:

Illuminated print

Period of activity:

Second half seventeenth-century

Museum Inventory Number:

ASBo, Anziani Consoli, Insignia volume VIII, cc. 21-22

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Illuminated print on parchment

Place of production:



355 x 460 mm

Workshop / Movement:

Seventeenth-century Bolognese illuminator


Archive of the Bolognese Senate


The Insignia degli Anziani Consoli, bound in 16 volumes and housed in the Archivio di Stato Bologna, are documents on parchment. They were made every two months, from 1530 to 1796, to celebrate the eight Anziani Consoli and the Gonfaloniere di Giustizia, a group of magistrates ruling the city. From the end of the sixteenth-century, the names of the magistrates were depicted flanked by their coats of arms and a significant event that had taken place during the two months of their charge: an extraordinary visual chronicle illustrating more than two centuries of the city's history with six pictures a year.
This picture (IV bimester of 1657) shows the stage for the roast pork feast. Celebrated every year on the 24th of August, a special installation was ssembled on the main square to host the feast of St. Bartholomew. In 1657 the theatre was shaped as a ship and was occupying nearly all the square, between the palace of the Podestà on the left and the stairs of the basilica of St. Petronius on the right. Along the sides of the ship were the stalls for the feast of the Assumption (from 15th to 24th August) that were going to become on the 24th boxes for the paying audience watching a theatrical representation and taking part in the traditional distribution of roast pork. On the mast waves the flag of the Municipality, under it a standard shows the coats of arms of Pope Alexander VII among those of the cardinal legate and of the archbishop of Bologna. On the aft deck a tent hosts the nine coats of arms of the Anziani Consoli and the Gonfaloniere of the bimester July-August 1657. On top right a Latin inscription in golden ink describes the picture and bears the names of the Anziani Consoli.

View Short Description

Current Owner:

Italian State

Original Owner:

The Anziani Consoli of the town of Bologna

How date and origin were established:

The date and the names of the magistrates are inscribed on the top right of the picture.

How Object was obtained:

This illumination, like the whole series, has always been housed in the archive of the Bolognese senate, inside the municipal palace. It was transferred to the Archivio di Stato in 1874, when it was created.

Selected bibliography:

Plessi, G. Le Insignia degli Anziani del Comune dal 1530 al 1796. Catalogo-Inventario, Rome, 1954.
Il Magnifico apparato. Pubbliche funzioni, feste e giuochi bolognesi nel Settecento (exhibition catalogue) (ed. S. Camerini), Bologna, 1982.
Matteucci, A. M. “La cultura dell'effimero a Bologna nel XVII secolo”, Barocco Romano e Barocco Italiano. Il teatro, l'effimero, l'allegoria (eds. M. Fagiolo and M. L. Madonna), Rome, 1985, pp. 159-173.
Zanni Rosiello, I. “Le Insignia degli Anziani: un autoritratto celebrativo”, Società e storia: 52, 1991, pp. 329-362.
Giansante, M. “Gerarchie e scenografie. La festa della porchetta nelle Insignia degli Anziani Consoli di Bologna”, I quaderni del M.AE.S.: 8, 2005, pp. 93-125.

Citation of this web page:

Massimo  Giansante "Navis nundinaria (The trading ship)" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;it;Mus13_C;18;en&id=prints_and_drawings

Prepared by: Massimo GiansanteMassimo Giansante

SURNAME: Giansante
NAME: Massimo

AFFILIATION: Archivio di Stato, Bologna

TITLE: Archivist

Graduated in Italian Modern Literature at the University of Bologna, PhD in Medieval History at the University of Torino. Professor of History of the institutions in the Middle Ages and Specialized Archivistics at the school of Archivistics, Paleography and Diplomatics of Bologna. He has written about Bolognese bankers in the age of the Comuni (2008, Il Mulino) and on the Liber Paradisus (in collaboration with A. Antonelli, 2008, Marsilio). He is a specialist in medieval documents and history didactic.

Translation by: Antonella MampieriAntonella Mampieri

SURNAME: Mampieri
NAME: Antonella

AFFILIATION: Musei Civici d’Arte Antica, Bologna

TITLE: Art Hitorian

Graduated and specialised at the University of Bologna. She is a specialist in Bolognese late Baroque art, namely sculpture. Among other subjects she has been studying nineteenth-century funerary art in the Bologna monumental cemetery, la Certosa.

Translation copyedited by: Lisa Kelman

MWNF Working Number: IT2 19