Recent Acquisition: A Christian Archaeologist’s work on Medieval Mosaics in Churches of Rome

Rossi, Giovanni Battista de. Musaici cristiani e saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV: Tavole cromo-litografiche con cenni storici. Roma: Libreria Spithöver de Guglielmo Haass, 1899.

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822-1894) was a distinguished scholar of early Christian archaeology. Born in Rome, he attended the Collegio Romano and La Sapienza, earning a doctorate. After finishing his studies he was appointed scriptor at the Vatican Library, where he cataloged manuscripts. In addition to his expertise in archaeology, de Rossi was skilled in epigraphy and was an authority on the topography of ancient and medieval Rome. His studies of the apse mosaics in Roman churches continue those of the seventeenth-century scholars Jean l’Heureux and Giovanni Giustino Ciampi. He travelled widely, and was acquainted with the foremost European scholars of his day.

De Rossi was a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Antiquarian Society. A devout Catholic, he heard Mass every day. As his health failed, Leo XIII gave him use of an apartment at Castel Gandolfo, where de Rossi died in 1894.

Detail from Plate 10 showing the winged lion of St Mark.

De Rossi published a number of works in the second half of the nineteenth century, among which is this recent acquisition by the Hesburgh Libraries. The Musaici cristiani e saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV [“Christian Mosaics and Specimens of the Floors of the Churches of Rome Prior to the 16th Century”] originally was published in 27 fascicles between 1872 and 1896. The Libraries’ set is bound into two folio volumes, the first being the text and the second featuring 53 plates of illustrations. William Jackson of Aberdeen, Scotland was responsible for its binding. This set was presented to a monastery library by Lady Cecil Kerr (1883-1941), a Catholic author who wrote historical and devotional works.

Plate 10: Abside di Sta Pudenziana

The illustrations in the second volume are fine examples of chromolithography, which was a technique developed in the nineteenth century for the mass production of color images. The process of chromolithography used multiple blocks or stones, each of a different color, which were printed successively to develop each image. The Libraries’ copy includes some highlights in gold.

Plate 13: Arco di Placidia nella Basilica di S. Paolo e Frammenti della Medesima Basilica
Plate 18: Abside di Sta. Agnese fuori le mura

 


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Upcoming Events: December and early January

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 22, 2017, through January 1, 2018). In addition, RBSC will be closed December 5, 11:00am to 2:00pm due to the Hesburgh Libraries Christmas lunch.

We otherwise remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, continues to be on display through December 15, 2017. Public tours of the exhibit are offered Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 3pm, and are also available by request for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences. If you are planning to bring a group to Special Collections or would like to schedule a special tour, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for November and December is Building A Colonial Mexican Tavern: Archive of the Pulquería El Tepozán, curated by Erika Hosselkus. This exhibit features a manuscript archive which includes real estate, licensing, and planning documents for the pulquería El Tepozán. It was one of four such establishments built by nobleman don Pedro Romero de Terreros, the Count of Regla, in Mexico City, beginning in the final years of the 1770s.

The winter spotlight exhibit is Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, curated by George Rugg. This exhibit features highlights from the department’s collection of approximately 400 pieces of baseball related sheet music.

Recent Acquisition: Executing Justice in England

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting work from the Reformation period, De iustitia Britannica, siue Anglica, quae contra Christi martyres continenter exercetur (Ingolstadii, 1584).

This title has been variously attributed to Cardinal William Allen, Robert Parsons and Nicholas Sander, but seems to actually be the work of an unidentified author who explicitly states that it is intended as a supplement to Allen’s A briefe historie of the martyrdom of xii priests (Rheims, 1582). The title clearly references—and is a response to—Iustitia Britannica (Londini,1584), the Latin translation of William Cecil Burghley’s The execution of justice in England, which defended the execution of Edmund Campion and other Catholics in 1581.

This acquisition is the first and only edition of the work; we have identified only six other North American holdings.

Upcoming Events: November and early December

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, November 16 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Alberti and Poetry” by Maria Sole Costanzo (PhD candidate, Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Thanksgiving Break (November 23-24, 2017). In addition, RBSC will be closed December 5, 11:00am to 2:00pm due to the Hesburgh Libraries Christmas lunch.

 

The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, continues to be on display through December 15, 2017. Public tours of the exhibit are offered Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 3pm, and are also available by request for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences. If you are planning to bring a group to Special Collections or would like to schedule a special tour, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for November and December is Building A Colonial Mexican Tavern: Archive of the Pulquería El Tepozán, curated by Erika Hosselkus. This exhibit features a manuscript archive which includes real estate, licensing, and planning documents for the pulquería El Tepozán. It was one of four such establishments built by nobleman don Pedro Romero de Terreros, the Count of Regla, in Mexico City, beginning in the final years of the 1770s.

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America remains open for one more week. The winter spotlight exhibit, Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, will open in mid-November and highlights the department’s collection of approximately 400 pieces of baseball related sheet music.

Recent Acquisition: Defending Pope Joan

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The story about a female pope—Pope Joan—circulated widely from the early thirteenth century and was generally accepted. Allegedly, a woman disguised herself as a male in order to attend university with her lover. She quickly ascended through the ecclesiastical hierarchy and was elected pope under the name John. She reigned for two and a half years before her true identity was revealed when she fell to the ground and gave birth.

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an interesting and very rare example of a French Protestant writer refuting another Protestant author’s denial of the Pope Joan legend.

Pierre Congnard’s Traite contre l’eclaircissement donne par M. Blondel en la question, si une femme a este assise au siege papal de Rome, entre Leon IV et Benoist III (Saumur: Ian Ribotteau & Antoine Rousselet, 1655) is a Protestant response to a work by the Calvinist pastor, David Blondel (1591-1655). Blondel, similar to many Catholic writers, attempted to dispel the Pope Joan story on the basis of his own scholarly research. Congnard, however, supports the claim that there was indeed a female Pope.

There is apparently only one other copy of this title held by a North American institution.

 


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Upcoming Events: October and early November

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, October 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Saying Goodbye in the Renaissance” by Jane Tylus (NYU). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Tuesday, October 31 at 4:30pm | “Russia’s 20th Century in Ten Short Stories” by Michael Khodarkovsky (Loyola University Chicago). Sponsored by the Russian Program within the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures at Notre Dame.

 

The fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, continues to be on display through December 15, 2017. Public tours of the exhibit are offered Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at 3pm, and are also available by request for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences. If you are planning to bring a group to Special Collections or would like to schedule a special tour, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for October is Images of David and Goliath in the Sixteenth Century, curated by Julie Tanaka. The is exhibit is hosted in conjunction with the exhibit “Rembrandt’s Religious Prints: the Feddersen Collection at the Snite Museum of Art” (September 3 through November 26, 2017).

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, has been extended through October. The fall spotlight exhibit, opening in November, will feature highlights from the department’s collection of approximately 400 pieces of baseball related sheet music.

Recent Acquisition: Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Tales

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.

Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.

Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.

A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.

Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.

Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.

With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.

Frontispiece from the 1913 edition: “The King of the Mountains of the Moon”

The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.

Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]

One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.

Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.

The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.

 

Bibliography

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Walter Crane and Jacomb Hood. London: David Nutt, 1888. (1,000 copies printed)
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Charles Robinson. London, 1913.
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. New York: R. K. Haas, c. 1925.
Special Collections Rare Books XSmall PR 5818 .H27 1925z

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. Stamford, Conn.: The Overbrook Press, 1936. (Limited edition of 250 copies).
Special Collections Rare Medium Z 232 .O87 W53 1936

The Happy Prince, and The Selfish Giant; Fairy Tales. With a foreword by Hal W. Trovillion. Herrin, Ill.: Trovillion Private Press, 1945.
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1945

The Happy Prince. Designed by Meyer Wagman and edited by Charles Brodie. New York: K. H. Volk, c. 1955. (Issued in a box. “…bound in moire silk and stamped with genuine gold.”)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1955

The young king and other fairy tales. Introduced by John Updike. Illustrated by Sandro Nardini and Enrico Bagnoli. NY: Macmillan, 1962.
Special Collections Rare XLarge PR 5811 1962

The Happy Prince. T. D. R. Powell, 1970. (Limited edition of 275 copies, signed by the publishers and the paper-makers, Sheepstor Handmade Papers.)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1970

Fairy Tales and stories. Octopus, 1980.
Special Collections (MR) Medium PR 5816 1980

Stories for Children. Illustrated by P. J. Lynch. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Special Collections (MR) Large PR 5811 1991

Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. Illustrated by P. Craig Russell. NY: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, c. 1992. (Five volume set.)
Special Collections (MR) PN 6727 .R85 F35 1992

 

[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.

 


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Who’s Who in RBSC: Tracy Bergstrom

“We are in fact convinced that no human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis, and that the fundamental values, even if they are not positive, can be deduced from the particular world which we are describing.”
–Primo Levi, If This is a Man

In Se questo è un uomo (If This is a Man), Primo Levi articulates that all experience informs our thinking and understanding about what it means to be human. Levi’s own experience as a chemist and a human subjected to extreme suffering in Auschwitz resonates throughout his works on display here.

Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture, the current exhibit in Special Collections to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Levi’s death, is curated by Tracy Bergstrom with assistance from Vittorio Montemaggi (Lecturer, Religion and the Arts, King’s College London) and Valentina Geri (PhD candidate, Italian). Tracy is the Program Director for the Specialized Collection Services Program and the curator of the Zahm Dante and early Italian imprints collection at Notre Dame. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies and Art History from Smith College, a Master of Arts in Archaeological Studies from Yale University, and a Master of Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University.

The exhibit invites viewers to engage with the works on display to explore Levi’s life and work. Tracing the development of Levi’s writings and their reception, Elements of Humanity demonstrates how they are interconnected. The books on display challenge viewers to reflect on what they see, on how art and history are related, on the connections between truth and fiction, on the relationship between scientific and humanistic knowledge.

Elucidating this synthesis is Levi’s Il sistema periodico (The Periodic Table). His scientific knowledge and analysis are woven with his literary skills, illuminating his experiences—personal, social, and political. In the series of short stories, each bears the name of an element which Levi uses as a metaphor for particular experiences from his life. On display, set in front of stunning images created by the Japanese artist, Yosuke Taki, is the opening of “Carbon” in which Levi traces the journey of a single carbon atom across time and space, a journey reflecting the experiences of the writer himself.

Most of the books in this exhibit are part of the Primo Levi Collection in Special Collections. Beginning in 2009, Hesburgh Libraries and Italian Studies partnered to develop this as a new collection that deepened the Italian holdings’ reach to include contemporary Italian literature. At the launch for this collection in Fall 2011, Father Hesburgh spoke about the importance of Notre Dame holding such a collection to use for teaching and research. The Levi Collection now includes all first editions of Levi’s works printed in Italy during his lifetime and of notable translations, especially in German and English, and adaptations that document Levi’s importance outside of Italy.

The Primo Levi Collection in addition to the Zahm Dante Collection and the other Italian literature collections held by the Libraries continue to support teaching and research for the campus and international visitors, and it also provides an invaluable resource for a new PhD program in Italian. These collections are heavily used by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty at Notre Dame and by visiting scholars. Over the past few years, Italian Studies has made increasing use of these materials for the seminars it holds related to Italian Holocaust Studies. Of note, in 2012, Robert Gordon (Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Cambridge) examined the collection, gave a talk titled “Outrageous Fortune: Luck and the Holocaust,” and met with graduate students.

Works from the Italian literature collections have been exhibited on numerous occasions. Between 2008 and 2011, rotating exhibit cases featured topical exhibits: “Petrarch in 16th-Century Translation” and “Dante for Children.” A spotlight exhibit, “Plumb Crazy: Dante and Music,” ran October 3-28, 2016. “The Sixth Centenary Festival of Dante” was on display in Fall 2015, displaying works to commemorate the 600th anniversary in 1865 of Dante’s birth. Italian collections were also featured in All Roads Lead to Rome: New Acquisitions Relating to the Eternal City (Fall 2011).

Elements of Humanity opened on September 5, 2017 with remarks by Tracy Bergstrom, Vittorio Montemaggi, and Valentina Geri. The exhibit will remain on display through December 15, 2017. The exhibit is free and open to the public, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Public Tours

• Tuesdays, noon
• Wednesdays, 3pm

Tours for classes or other groups, including K-12 requests, are available. Please contact Tracy Bergstrom at tbergstr@nd.edu or (574) 632-1763 to schedule a class or tour.

Suggested Resources

Further Reading (pdf)

Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection

Warning: this article includes graphic images that some readers may find disturbing.

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

The Cristero Rebellion (La Cristiada) (1926-1929) was a major uprising by Mexican Catholics against the violently anti-clerical presidential administration of Plutarco Elías Calles. Together, the Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection include some 73 photographs, many of them portrait-style prints of individuals executed under authority of President Calles. These images, and others like them, document the persecution of clerics and lay devotees who protested against the closure of churches and restrictions on the exercise of faith during the Calles era. They were also collected by devout Catholics during and after the Cristero Rebellion and served as reminders, or even relics, of the courage demonstrated by the Mexican faithful in the face of persecution.

The Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album is a set of 32 silver gelatin photographs, each with a leaf of accompanying, semi-hagiographic, text. The Cristero Rebellion Martyrs postcard collection includes 41 black and white postcards and photographs, some with descriptive information. (Full descriptions of these two collections can be accessed at the linked finding aids.)

Continue reading Cristero Rebellion Martyrs photo album and postcard collection

Upcoming Events: September and early October

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Tuesday, September 5 at 4:00pm | Opening reception for the fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture. This exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Imprints and Dante Collection) and opens on August 21.

Friday, September 15 at 4:00pm | Dedication program for Emily Young’s sculpture Lethos, to be followed by a reception in the Carey Courtyard View Area (Second Floor – Hesburgh Library). Sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries and the Alumni Committee for Poetry and Sculpture.

Thursday, September 21 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Titian’s Icons” by Christopher J. Nygren (Pittsburgh). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for September is The Art of Botanical Illustration: Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.