We join the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Also in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane María and Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery struggle, this post highlights the island’s artistic heritage.
Puerto Rican artists Félix Rodríguez Báez, José A. Torres Martinó, Lorenzo Homar, and Rafael Tufiño (members of the Generation of ’50) formally established the Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño in 1950. This studio, art school, and gallery was influenced by the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico and its mission of educating the public through art. At the same time, the member artists of the CAP used their work to express and assert a uniquely Puerto Rican identity.
This portfolio of 8 prints, published in the late 1960s by the Centro de Artes Gráficas Nacionales, includes two works by each of four key members of the Generation of ’50, Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Rafael Tufiño, and J.A. Torres Martino. The pieces are reproduced from original prints and were chosen to portray the development in aesthetic of each artist since 1951, when the CAP issued its first portfolio.
Carlos Raquel Rivera’s first print, “Marea Alta,” owes much to the influence of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in both the social commentary made through its content and in its style. His second print, “El Pegao,” reflects what had become Rivera’s signature style, driven by a strong black/white contrast.
The contrast between the two prints submitted by Lorenzo Homar is striking also. “La Tormenta” a depiction of a man peering over his shoulder at an oncoming storm is poetic and suggestive while “La Vitrina,” a critical depiction of tourism in Puerto Rico is bold and aggressive in style.
As a whole, this collection attests to the strength and evolution of print-making as an activist art form in mid-century Puerto Rico.
Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:
Friday, October 12 at 3:00pm | Frankenstein and Medical Ethics: A Panel with Faculty from Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB).
• Mark Fox, MD PhD MPH (IUSM-SB), Modern Day Re-animation: Revisiting the Moral History of Transplantation
• Joseph Kotva, PhD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein and an Ethics of Virtue
• Gary Fromm, MD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein, Film, and Medical Education
• Kathleen Eggleson, PhD (IUSM-SB), Teaching Frankenstein Today: The Moral Imperative to Reform the Education of Medical Scientists
• Chair, Eileen Hunt Botting, Professor of Political Science (Notre Dame)
This event is part of Operation Frankenstein, a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Tuesday, October 23 at 4:00pm | Public Lecture: “La primera entrada al Río de la Plata: Maldonado y su historia” / “The First Entry to the Rio de la Plata: Maldonado and Its History” by Silvia Guerra (Uruguayan poet and scholar).
Wednesday, October 24 at 4:00pm |Un mar en madrugada / A Sea at Dawn: Bilingual Reading by Silvia Guerra and Jesse Lee Kercheval.
Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30pm | Black Catholic History Month public lecture by Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and Hesburgh Libraries/University Archives
Medina, a member of the Order of the Brothers of St. James of Mexico City, details Felipe’s birth, his initial affiliation with the discalced Franciscans in Puebla, his missionary work in Manila, the omens preceding his martyrdom, the martyrdom itself, and his beatification.
Felipe found himself in Japan when a storm pushed his ship, destined for Mexico, off course. He and companion friars and a number of Japanese Christians were taken prisoner on orders of Japanese regent, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After weeks in prison, these men were crucified as an example to others who might consider conversion.
Medina includes an image of the type of cross used in the crucifixions in his work. It was comprised of a crossbeam on top, one on the bottom, and a smaller piece of wood that the victims sat astride, as if riding a horse, in Medina’s words. A metal hoop encircled the neck and, in Felipe’s case, nearly choked him to death as his feet failed to reach the lower support. Executioners ran lances through the bodies of the Christians as they were suspended from the cross.
The title page is printed in red and black ink, but the highlight of this work is the engraved plate depicting San Felipe as he was crucified. The drawing depicts the martyr on a cross, pierced by lances, and with the ring of metal encircling his neck. Interestingly, the group of symbols representing the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and later Mexico City—an eagle with a snake in its beak atop a nopal cactus—appears in front of the cross. An almost whimsical rendering of Mexico City including a cathedral, a bridge, and small human figures, decorates the bottom of the image.
This is the only copy of this work in the United States and one of the few copies anywhere containing the engraved plate.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a unique set of over eighty bound, handwritten letters, Traicte pour les tres devotes & tres vertueuses dames, les dames religieuses du Calvaire (MSE/EM 2833), from Francois Leclerc du Tremblay, also known as Pere Joseph, to the nuns of Calvaire between 1614 and 1638. Pere Joseph began his career as a soldier, serving at the Siege of Amiens in 1597, but in 1599 he renounced the world and entered the Capuchin priory of Orleans. He became a notable preacher and in 1606 helped Antoinette d’Orleans, a nun of Fontevrault, found the order of the Filles du Calvaire—the community to whom these letters are addressed.
Pere Joseph (1577-1638) is also known as a confidant of Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), and was the original “eminence grise” (“grey eminence”), the French term for a powerful advisor who operates “behind the scenes.”
Recently acquired is a full-size, color facsimile of the Golden Qur’an (Cod.arab. 1112), held in the Bavarian State Library (BSB) in Munich. The original manuscript was restored by the BSB’s Institute of Book and Manuscript Restoration in 1967. This true-to-size facsimile replicates both the physical appearance and features of the restored codex. Some loss of the ornamental decoration along the edges indicates the text block was trimmed when the codex received a later binding.
The Golden Qur’an is among a small number of Qur’ans written using colored writing materials. The most notable example of these colored works is the late 9th- or early 10th-century Blue Qur’an from Tunisia that was written in Kufic script on indigo-dyed vellum.
The holy text in the Golden Qur’an is written in black Naskh cursive on gold-coated paper. The image below reveals the reflection from these golden pages.
Each sura heading is framed in blue, white, and reddish-brown script and is decorated with floral and arabesque patterns. Verses are separated by rosettes.
This Qur’an probably originated in Iraq or Iran. It has many features which indicate that it was a product of the school of Ibn al-Bawwab, the early 12th-century Persian illuminator and calligrapher. The Qur’an employs ink colors—white, brown, crimson, and black—that had been introduced by Ibn al-Bawwab. The vertical letters slant slightly to the left and are written in a dense but clear style that is characteristic of his school. In addition, the first page features an unusual arrangement of two sura titles. In the basmala (the name for the Islamic phrase which translates into English as “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”), the Arabic letter “sin” is elongated.
The Loeber Collection of Irish Fiction, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003, is the foundation of the Irish Fiction Collection. As suggested by the major bibliography, A Guide to Irish Fiction 1650-1900 by Rolf Loeber and Magda Loeber, the Loeber Collection began with the premise that fiction, regardless of its status in relation to the literary canon, is important for a variety of reasons.
As Seamus Deane observes, ‘fiction – quite as much as history, propaganda, or religious works – was a form of knowledge or, at the very least, a mode of writing that moulds attitudes towards knowledge’ (Loeber, xvii).
Since the Loeber Collection arrived, over two thousand editions have been added to the Irish Fiction Collection, including children’s fiction, detective novels, ‘Troubles Fiction’ of Northern Ireland, and romances. Novels from the nineteenth century and earlier are still sought and added.
Even where a text is available in multiple formats, such as scholarly edited texts of Maria Edgeworth or Sidney Owenson, early editions in their original printing and binding have many stories to tell us of the readership and of the value and popularity of individual novels.
Among the early examples of ‘Irish Gothic’ are Regina Maria Roche’s novels. The Children of the Abbey, first published in 1796, is her best-known novel today. It is referred to in Jane Austen’s Emma, an indication of its popularity. One of the most frequently reprinted novels of the nineteenth century (Loeber 1136), the Hesburgh collection holds many editions including illustrated editions and multi-volume editions. Shown here are two late nineteenth-century American editions, possibly abridged, both with illustrations by Philadelphia illustrator F. O. C. Darley.
The above cover shows The Girls of Kings Royal, a novel by one of the earliest and most prolific writers of stories for girls. L. T. Meade, or Elizabeth (Lillie) Thomasina Toulmin Smith, was born in County Cork in 1844 and spend most of her adult life in England. Besides stories of schoolgirls, she wrote fiction for adults, including crime novels featuring a female detective. With almost two hundred titles by L. T. Meade in the Hesburgh Irish Fiction Collection, possibly the largest L. T. Meade collection besides that at Cornell, it is probably only about two-thirds of her output.
The British edition shown here has gilt-edged pages and eight coloured illustrations by Gordon Browne. The collection includes also an American edition published by Hurst of New York also in 1913, and illustrated by Charles I. Wrenn.
Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians, a novel based on a murder that occurred in Limerick, was first published in 1829, and was popular throughout the nineteenth century, with many editions published. The story also inspired a play by Dion Boucicault. Editions in the Irish Fiction Collection span a century, from the first edition to the Talbot Press editions of 1919 and 1934 which have an introduction by Pádraic Colum.
Shown here is the Warne’s Library of Fiction edition copy which contains lists of novels from Warne’s various series in the inside covers. The back cover advertises Norton’s Camomile Pills, for ‘all who suffer from indigestion, sick headache, bilious and liver complaints, hearturn, and acidity of the stomach, depressed spirits, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, dispepsia, spasms, general debility, costiveness, &c.’
Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) wrote over one hundred novels along with poetry, memoirs, and articles of various kinds. She was involved in Irish literary society and was encouraged in her writing by W. B. Yeats, among others. Hesburgh Special Collections holds at least fifty titles by Tynan.
The Loeber Collection includes a first edition of The Dear Irish Girl, published in London by Smith and Elder in 1899, but the cover shown here is from the 1899 edition published in Chicago by A. C. McClurg. This copy came to us with the library of Captain Francis O’Neill, who gave his library to the University in 1931.
Thanks to the acquisition of the Loeber Collection and the continued work in building the Irish Fiction Collection, scholars of Irish Studies may find a large body of fiction from any time and in all genres, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.
The item featured in this week’s blog post is on display as a spotlight exhibit through the end of August.
French book artist Didier Mutel, inspired by Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of the world’s wealthiest people, created a portfolio called The Forbes simulachres: historiées faces de la mort, autant elegammẽt pourtraictes que artificiellement imaginées(Images and Illustrated Aspects of Death, as Elegantly Delineated as They Are Artfully Imagined). This 75-sheet portfolio, generously sized at 62 x 45 cm, comprises 36 pairs of woodcuts. Each duo consists of a full-page illustration of a skeleton, accompanied by text naming an individual from Forbes’ 2009 list of billionaires.
Mutel’s inspiration for this work was the iconic “Dance of Death” woodcuts created by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). The Dance of Death (danse macabre in French, Totentanz in German) is part of the medieval tradition of memento mori (contemplation of death). Its visual representation typically pairs a living person with a skeleton, reminding the viewer that death comes to all, regardless of their worldly circumstances. Holbein depicted this theme in woodcuts which he completed in 1526 while living in Basel. They were first published, however, in 1538 in Lyon, France.
In the Forbes simulachres, Mutel portrays skeletons in a variety of settings. Some are engaged in recreational activities such as skiing or surfing while others are shown in more mysterious and threatening circumstances. Every skeleton is paired with a plate of text accompanied by biblical verses in early French, and each references Forbes by giving individuals’ names and ranks on its annual list of the wealthy.
Didier Mutel, born in 1971, is an engraver and printer who specializes in book arts. He studied at l’École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (1991-1993) and l’Atelier national de création typographique (1994-1995). He has received numerous awards including a “Grand Prix des métiers d’art de la ville de Paris” in 1997 and was named artist in residence at Rome’s Villa Médicis from 1997 to 1999. Since 2003 he has taught engraving and drawing at l’École des beaux-arts in Besançon.
When Mutel returned to Paris from Rome, he joined the workshop of a master artist, Pierre Lallier, whom he had met in 1988. Lallier’s workshop originated in 1793 and was the oldest continually operating etching studio in France. After Lallier’s retirement, Mutel continued his work, maintaining legacy equipment and original printing techniques.
Mutel often revisits historical creations of music and literature. His inspirations range well beyond Forbes Magazine and include TheMetamorphosis by Franz Kafka and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In 1994 he published a noteworthy interpretation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The library’s copy of the Forbes simulachres is number 6 in an edition of 42 and is signed by the artist. Its case is unusual in having been fabricated from one of the woodblocks used to produce the text for plate number 6 featuring Karl Albrecht.
Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:
Wednesday, August 22 at 3:00pm | “The Conservation of Dante’s 1477 La Commedia.” A public talk by Jeff Peachey (Independent Book Conservator, New York City). The conservation treatment of the Hesburgh Libraries’ important copy of Dante’s La Commedia (Venice: Vindelinus de Spira, 1477) will be detailed in this profusely illustrated lecture. Bibliophiles, conservators, librarians, Italian scholars, and anyone curious about the physical structure of books will find this lecture of interest.
Friday, September 7 at 1:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Illustrated Frankenstein: The 200th Anniversary Edition” by David Plunkert (artist and illustrator for The New Yorker). Operation Frankenstein is a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Rare book and manuscript collections can grow in unexpected ways. Sometimes, items encountered on the market are simply too much fun to pass up. Such was certainly the case with the manuscript featured in this week’s blog, acquired by the Libraries in 2016.
The item in question is a small (12.5 cm.) handmade pamphlet of 8 leaves, with paper wraps, bound with thread. The front wrap doubles as a title page; accomplished in purple copying pencil, it reads: “Suspenders. An Epic Poem by Kreuzer. MK. Illustrated.” An inscription on the verso of the cover, reading “For ‘Key’ to the following – See local column Lawrence Journal. March 2d ’72” provides a possible association of the author with Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts. The rectos of each leaf contain framed narrative scenes drawn in pencil, with secondary figural and decorative elements in the margins. The scenes are rendered in great detail; the representational style tends towards the naive but the compositions are quite sophisticated. Each scene is accompanied by verse, written by Kreuzer in a miniscule hand.
The narrative is outwardly simple. A miserly youth, finding his suspenders worn out, journeys to the city to buy a new pair (1r-3r).
In a shop he is shown some that prove a perfect fit, but he ultimately fails to buy them because he finds the price too dear (4r-6r).
In returning home along the railroad tracks he narrowly avoids being hit by a train, and tears his sagging pants as he scrambles over a fence (7r).
That night he sees a pair of suspenders, radiant, in a dream, but wakes to find himself in his old predicament (8r).
The tale is humorous and patently moralizing, more like a fable than a mock epic, but the story in the local paper that provoked it remains for the present a mystery. The moralizing content is underscored by marginal figures outside the central narratives: for example, a man in a tug-of-war with the Devil, each holding an end of a pair of suspenders (5r). The inside of the back cover bears the scribbled pencil notation “March 20th 1872,” less than three weeks after the article mentioned in the front of the pamphlet.
Nothing is known of Kreuzer, and the rationale for his creation of this delightful little manuscript has yet to be determined. Comments are welcome.