Recent Acquisition: Icon of Dutch Design – SHV Think Book

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

Paul van Vlissingen, owner of the Dutch company SHV (Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging), commissioned the noted book maker Irma Boom to create a volume to commemorate the anniversary of his family’s firm. Boom had full access to the archives of the company and the family to aid her in conceiving what became a 2,136 page tome.

Given full artistic control and no budget, she spent five years fashioning the volume. It is a most unusual creation, incorporating a wide range of surprising and innovative design elements. As an example, the edge of the text block displays a field of tulips when its pages are flipped from left to right, but flipping them the opposite way reveals a poem.

The book’s contents are arranged in reverse chronological order, and are unnumbered to encourage accidental discovery. Pages are perforated and use different inks and typefaces. Irma Boom has received many awards, including a Gutenberg Prize, for her book designs. The SHV Think Book is her most celebrated work, and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as an international icon of Dutch design.

Irma Boom. SHV Think Book (1996-1896). Utrecht: SHV Holdings, 1996.

 


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Recent Acquisition: An Irish Priest in 19th Century Rome

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

The Very Rev. Jeremiah Donovan, D.D., professor of Rhetoric at Maynooth College, travelled to Rome in the 1830s and resided there for nine years. He documented his observations and recounted his impressions in his four-volume Rome, Ancient and Modern and Its Environs, printed privately by Crispino Puccinelli in 1842-44. Enhancing the text are 62 copperplate engravings by Roman artist, Gaetano Cottafavi.

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The preface delineates the text’s arrangement as a “rapid historical sketch . . . with notices geological, statistical, political and religious,” followed by an admirably detailed description of the modern city’s “churches, palaces, museums, galleries, charitable institutions, hospitals, prisons, schools, colleges, universities, and other public establishments.” The work continues with “the antiquities ranged for the most part in chronological order” and “conducts the stranger through the environs of Rome” before concluding with a “copious and accurate index.”

Donovan emphasized his “personal observation and methodical description” and does not spare his subjects “unflinching but impartial criticism” even in light of Rome’s “transcendent and peculiar charms.”

 


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Color Our Collections: Vatican and Piranesi exhibits

Today’s coloring sheets comes from items on display in two of our ongoing exhibits: Vestigia Vaticana and the July spotlight exhibit on a recent acquisition, three works of Piranesi. The Vatican exhibit is open through mid-August, while the Piranesi exhibit closes at the end of this week.

Enjoy, and if you have the time please come in and see the full exhibits!

ColorOurCollections-Vaticana

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ColorOurCollections-Piranesi

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Recent Acquisition: Three Works of Battista Piranesi

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

BOO_004334827-bk1-00gAn important new acquisition is Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (Antiquities of Albano and Castel Gandolfo), published in Rome in 1764. This volume is dedicated to Pope Clement XIII, who was an important patron of Piranesi’s. It is bound with two related works from 1762:  Descrizione e disegno dell’emissario del Lago Albano (Description and Design of the Emissarium of Lake Albano) and Di due spelonche ornate dagli antichi alla riva del Lago Albano (Concerning Two Caves Embellished by the Ancients on the Bank of Lake Albano). All three focus on the environs of Castel Gandolfo, which is just outside of Rome, overlooking Lake Albano, and is the summer residence of the popes.

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Piranesi (1720-1778), best known as an etcher and engraver, was an influential figure in eighteenth-century neoclassicism. His Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) were informed by his personal architectural and archaeological research and are especially celebrated. Also of significance are his Carceri, which are imaginative views of early Roman prisons.

The volume acquired by the library was produced soon after Piranesi opened his own printing studio in 1761. It is a very early edition, issued without several of the illustrations that appeared in later versions. Two of the plates in Di due spelonche have lettering and drawing in pen and brown ink which are believed to be in Piranesi’s hand. Only eight other copies of this kind are known to be in existence.

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