Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:24:00 AM
Charles Dickens. Autograph letter signed, Dover, 30 April, 1856, to Sophie Verena. 4-pages. Written on light blue stationery, with envelope.
This is an extraordinarily candid and personal letter from Dickens to the young German novelist Sophie Verena, the pen name of Sophie Alberti, whose first novel (Else, published in 1856) was dedicated to Dickens. The letter describes in detail Dickens’s physical appearance, exercise regimen, and writing habits. He tells her that “I am very young-looking still, and I know that I am a very active vigorous fellow, who never knew in his own experience what the word ‘fatigue’ meant” and announces proudly that “I am a great walker besides, and plunge into cold water every day in the dead of winter. When I was last in Switzerland, I found that I could climb as fast as the Swiss Guides. Few strangers think I look like one who passes so many hours alone in his own Study.” Later in the letter he confesses that “I very seldom write or talk about myself.” In Verena’s letter to Dickens she had asked whether he dictates his work. Dickens’s response reveals something about his visual imagination: “I answer with a smile that I can as soon imagine a painter dictating his pictures. No. I write every word of my books with my own hand . . . I write with great care and pains (being passionately fond of my art, and thinking it worth any trouble).” The Morgan has over 1450 letters by Charles Dickens, one of the largest collections in the world. Letters written by Dickens in this uncommonly personal manner are extremely scarce.
Purchased for The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection as the gift of the Heineman Foundation, 2011.
Monday, March 14, 2011 11:26:00 AM
Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Io. Frobenivs lectori S. D. En habes optime lector ... Aurelij Augustini, opus absolutissimum, De ciuitate Dei, magnis sudoribus eme[n]datum ... per uirum clarissimum & undequaq[ue] doctissimum Ioan. Lodouicu[m] Viuem ... & per eundem ... commentarijs ... illustratum ... Basel: Johann Froben, 1522. Purchased on the Curt F. Bühler Fund, 2011
This is the definitive edition of Augustine’s City of God, edited by Erasmus’s humanist colleague Luis Vives and printed at the renowned scholarly press of Johann Froben, who had it illustrated with woodcuts and metalcuts by Urs Graf, Ambrosius Holbein, and Hans Holbein the Younger. In addition to the work of these artists, this copy has a grandiloquent armorial bookplate designed by Hans Sebald Beham for the Nuremberg patrician Hector Pömer, provost of a church in that city. Pömer bought it at a Nuremberg bookshop in 1534 and read it carefully, writing copious marginal notes on the text and the commentary. Here one can see the influence of Augustine not just on Luther and Calvin but also on the rank and file members of the Protestant Reformation such as this learned provost, who had already mandated changes in the celebration of the mass and had been excommunicated by the Bishop of Bamberg.
Friday, February 18, 2011 1:11:00 PM
Catholic Church. Breviary. Breuiarium romanum. Venice: Giovanni Varisco & Company, 1562. Purchased as the gift of Jamie K. Kamph and on the Harper Fund, 2011.
About twenty printed books and manuscripts have been attributed to the Arabesque Outline Tool Binder, active in Venice between 1560 and 1571. Breviaries were part of the stock in trade of this workshop, which also had a sideline in lavishly decorated Commissioni dogali, legal documents issued by the doge of Venice. The central design here reappears in a 1571 Commissione at the British Library as part of a larger composition, including the same gilt-tooled flower and leaf ornaments forming a graceful arabesque pattern filled with criblé gold dots.
Monday, February 14, 2011 6:00:00 PM
Die Wiener Werkstätte, 1903-1928: Modernes Kunstgewerbe und sein Weg. Edited by Mathilde Flögl. Vienna: Krystall-Verlag, 1929. Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2009.
Published to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Wiener Werkstätte, this commemorative volume surveys its accomplishments in decorative arts, interior design, silverware, textiles, ceramics and mosaics. One of the founders of this innovative artists’ collective was the architect and art theorist Josef Hoffmann, also known for his modernist bookbindings, several of which are in the Morgan collection. This special copy is in a striking red-and-black papier-mâché binding with decorative endpapers by Hoffmann and covers designed by the eminent ceramicists Vally Wieselthier and Gudrun Baudisch.
Monday, February 14, 2011 5:58:00 PM
Robert Simson (1687-1768). Sectionum conicarum libri V. Edinburgh: T. & W. Ruddiman, 1735. Purchased as the gift of Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr., and on the Dannie and Hettie Heineman Fund, 2009.
A self-taught mathematician, Simson was a professor at the University of Glasgow and an authority on ancient Greek geometry. His treatise on conic sections contains instructions on how to plot ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas — geometrical exercises useful to astronomers who study the laws of planetary motion. This copy is in a Scottish “herringbone” binding, elaborately tooled in gilt with gilt edges and gilt endpapers, almost certainly intended for presentation to the English mathematician William Jones or to Jones’s patron, the second earl of Macclesfield. Both Jones and Macclesfield were accomplished scientists and ardent book collectors. No doubt Simson commissioned the binding from a local shop in hopes of making a good impression on a bibliophile who might further his academic career.
Monday, February 14, 2011 5:57:00 PM
Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835). Album of thirty-seven Italian genre scenes assembled by or for Eugène de Bourbon-Busset, consisting of hand-colored etchings, mostly by Bartolomeo Pinelli, but also by Gaetano Cottafavi and Filippo Ferrari. [Rome: n.p., ca. 1809-1838]. Purchased as the gift of the Visiting Committee of the Department of Printed Books and Bindings in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., and on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2008.
Brilliantly colored, lavishly bound, these prints may have been a souvenir of a trip to Italy, or they could have served as a conversation-piece in the library of Eugène de Bourbon-Busset (1799-1863), connoisseur of fine bindings and scion of a noble house with dynastic links to royalty. They include the later work of Pinelli, whose earliest collection of costume prints (1809) came to the Morgan in the Paul Mellon gift of 1979. Here are the genre scenes that made Pinelli’s reputation: street festivals, rustic dances, picturesque ruins, religious processions, peasants in their holiday finery, and bandits on the lookout for unwary tourists.
Monday, February 14, 2011 5:55:00 PM
Aelius Donatus. Ars minor. Mainz: Johann Schöffer, ca. 1517-1518. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2010.
This Latin grammar was a mainstay of elementary education in medieval Europe, a textbook constantly in demand and an obvious candidate for the newly invented art of printing. Gutenberg and his associates printed several editions, which survive only as fragments. This is the only known copy of an edition printed by Johann Schöffer, grandson of Gutenberg’s partner Johann Fust and son of Gutenberg’s successor Peter Schöffer. Unlike other Donatus editions, this one is profusely illustrated with metalcut borders depicting homely and humorous scenes that might have helped to alleviate the misery of learning Latin. One of the borders shows a printing press in action.
Monday, February 14, 2011 5:54:00 PM
Andechs (Germany). Benedictine priory. Chronick dess hochberümbten Closters, vnd Gottshauses, heiligen Berg Andechs, S. Benedicten Ordens, Augspurger Bistthumbs, in Obern Bayrn gelegen. Munich: Johann Jäcklin, 1657. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2007.
Pilgrims still visit the Benedictine priory of Andechs in Bavaria to view the bridal gown of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. But this is only one of dozens of relics described and illustrated in this catalogue, which also contains devotional exercises, a history of the monastery, and a classified index of miracles performed on premises between 1454 and 1623.