“Vestigia Vaticana” Exhibit Opens

Frag_I_39-1r-cropped-v2Manuscripts, incunabula, seals, maps, engravings, and printed books from the thirteenth century to the present highlight how the Holy Father has left his mark on society. These materials from RBSC, together with a great bull on loan from Saint Mary’s College, are featured in the new exhibit “Vestigia Vaticana.” The exhibit’s opening coincides with the conference The Promise of the Vatican Library, being held May 8–10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame.

These materials are like the Vatican’s footprints. They provide a trail for us to follow to get a glimpse of the official acts of the Holy Father, of books that belonged to popes, of events the general public wasn’t privy to. Take a stroll through the exhibit to see these papal bulls, apostolic briefs, a papal conclave print, a ground plan of Rome, and various other pieces.

Upcoming Events: May and through the summer

The new summer exhibit, Vestigia Vaticana: An exhibition of papal manuscripts, books and more in conjunction with the conference “The Promise of the Vatican Library” at the University of Notre Dame, opens on May 5 and will run through the summer.

The other exhibits for May are:

Ryosuke Cohen’s Brain Cell 261: Mail Art from the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections

Native American Literature Before 1924 (Spring Semester Spotlight Exhibit)

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular 9-5 hours during the summer — our Thursday evening extended hours ended after April 28th.

RBSC will be closed for Memorial Day, May 30th, and the Fourth of July.

Recent Acquisition: A Collection of Eighteenth-Century Illustrated Fables

BOO_003873139_t1-p00cby Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired a two-volume set called Raccolta di Varie Favole by Giorgio Fossati. Published in Venice in 1744, these books gather 216 fables from a variety of sources. The fables are printed in both Italian and French, and conclude with brief proverbs. Each is illustrated with a full-page engraving, many of which portray animals and/or architectural settings.

Giorgio Fossati (1705-1785) identifies himself as “Architetto” on the title page, but was a polymath of many talents. He was an accomplished etcher and book illustrator, publishing editions of Vignola and Palladio and producing numerous maps. He also worked in the performing arts, revising opera librettos and designing theatrical sets. He was specially noted for devising ephemeral decorations for feasts given in honor of distinguished foreign visitors.

BOO_003873139_t1-p31b-cropped

This engraving “Of Armed Animals” comes from Book One, Fable 27. It illustrates the “soldiers” chosen by a wise Lion whose kingdom was being challenged by an upstart Leopard. These animals, among which are the Rhinoceros, the Crocodile, the Hedgehog, the Porcupine, and the Tortoise, all feature as their distinguishing characteristic both offensive and defensive capabilities. This thoughtful choice of “troops” enabled the Lion to defeat and banish the Leopard’s army. The accompanying proverb advises on the importance of soldiers being able to respect their leader.

BOO_003873139_t1-p31c-cropped

 


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ND’s Conservation Lab Looks at our Pico: Is it human?

by Sue Donovan, Rare Books Conservator

The conservation lab, a unit within Hesburgh Libraries Preservation, has been part of a collaborative effort to determine if a book owned by the University since 1916 was bound in human skin. The book, a volume of the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a 15th-century humanist writer, contains newspaper clippings and handwritten affidavits attesting to the book’s past. These documents purport that the book was owned by Christopher Columbus and was bound in the skin of a Moorish chieftain, which had been obtained after the conversion of the Muslim population of Granada to Catholicism by the zealous Cardinal Cisneros in 1500. After contradictions were found in the provenance records, the conservation lab engaged in identifying the nature of the skin used for the binding.

BOO_000943748-000a999d-illust1
Opera Joannis Pici Mirandule Comitis Concordie, by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Argentinus: diligenter impressit industrius Ioannes Prüs Ciuis Argentinus Anno salutis 1503 Die vero XV Marcij i.e., 15 March 1504).

In January of 2015 two samples were taken—one from the purported human skin binding and one as a control from a book with a similar binding and of the same time period and country of production as the Pico volume. Finding an area that was relatively untouched was important so that there would be no contamination from proteins and grime from centuries of handling and consultation. Accordingly, small samples were taken from underneath the paper pastedowns of each book, and they were sent to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), where they were analyzed through protein mass spectrometry. Proteins are more stable than DNA, and because of the unique patterns and mutations that exist across species, they can be used to determine whether a binding has been made with pig, sheep, calfskin, or human skin.

In the meantime, Conservator Liz Dube and I took the volume to the photo macroscopy lab on campus to see if we could determine any information about the origin of the skin through the pore and follicle patterns, but we left just as perplexed—perhaps even more so!—than when we arrived.

Based upon in-house tests, it was uncertain whether the Pico book was bound in human skin. We turned next to our outside collaborators for their expertise. To find out what they uncovered, read John Nagy’s article, “The Truth Uncovered,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.

Thanks to George Rugg for his research on the provenance of the Pico volume, Donald Siegle of the NYC OCME for his correspondence regarding protein mass spectrometry, and John Nagy for his research into the personalities behind this book’s ownership and for bringing the information together in his article.

 


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Recent Acquisition: L’École des armes (The School of Fencing)

BOO_004370170-00eDomenico Angelo. L’École des armes: avec l’explication générale des principals attitudes et positions concernant l’escrime. . . . London: R & J Dodsley, 1763.

Domenico Angelo (c1717-1802) was an Italian fencing master whose School of Arms in Soho, London brought continental small-sword techniques to a fashionable English clientele that included members of the royal family. His L’École des armes (The School of Fencing), first published in London in 1763, went on to become the most influential instructional of the later eighteenth century (and the immediate source for the article on fencing in Diderot’s Encyclopédie). It is also a lavish book, an oblong folio (29 x 47 cm) containing 47 engraved plates after John Gwynn. Together, Angelo’s text (written in French) and Gwynn’s images provide a course of instruction that emphasizes both the cultivation of poise and grace and practical modes of self-defense.

BOO_004370170-pl_14
Plate 14: Cinquieme position du Salut. (Fifth position of the Salute.)
BOO_004370170-pl_21
Plate 21: De la parade de prime sur le coup de second. (Of the parade called prime against the second thrust.)
BOO_004370170-pl_46
Plate 46: L’epée & Lanterne combattiie par l’epée & Manteau. (The sword & Lantern against the sword & Cloak.)

Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired a first edition of L’École des armes, an important addition to the early modern sport-related titles in the Joyce Sports Collection.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Wednesday, April 6th at 6:00pmOne Book, One Michiana: “Spirits of Another Sort: Imagining Faeries in A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – Jesse Lander (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7th at 5:00pm |”Lev Loseff: Poet, Son and Exile” – Barry P. Scherr (Dartmouth) — Sponsored by the Program in Russian and East European Studies and Hesburgh Libraries.

Thursday, April 14th at 4:30pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “Boccaccio and Petrarch on Poetry: Genealogy of the Pagan Gods and Invectives against the Physician” by David Lummus (Stanford) — Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for April is:

Ryosuke Cohen’s Brain Cell 261: Mail Art from the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections

Two exhibits that opened during the month of February continue through April:

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion

Native American Literature Before 1924 (Spring Semester Spotlight Exhibit)

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.

BOO_004334827-bk2-bk3

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.

BOO_004334827-bk3-10_09a-det

 


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Aedín Clements

Aedin Clements, Irish Studies LibrarianStanding beside oversized reproductions of two issues of The Cork Examiner from May 8-9, 1916, Aedín Clements commented how delighted she is that Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) has such an extensive collection of historical newspapers from Ireland. She explained that these newspapers are important sources for understanding Irish society and, thus, must be preserved and made discoverable and freely accessible to researchers here and worldwide. This has become one of her many projects as Irish Studies librarian.

Aedín, a native of Dublin, studied Irish literature, language, and folklore at University College Dublin from which she earned her bachelor’s and library degrees. She also earned a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University. In 2005, Aedin joined the Library as Irish Studies librarian. She was attracted to this job because of Hesburgh Library’s extensive 20th-century Irish language collection, one that covers a broad range of disciplines and includes children’s literature, Irish language and literature, traditional songs and ballads, and more. She admits a special place in her heart for the O’Neill Collection, which has a little something for everyone. In December 2015, Aedin also became Interim Head of the Area Studies and Global Affairs unit within the Hesburgh Libraries. Her expertise and work in Irish Studies are evident in many ways including invitations to speak at conferences and events and the multiple exhibits she has curated for RBSC. Her scholarship and service to the profession have been recognized by Notre Dame: Aedín was awarded the 2013 Rev. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., Award by Hesburgh Libraries and was elected in September 2015 as a Faculty Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Aedín has a list of to-dos that is perpetually growing because she is always on the lookout for enhancing existing areas of collecting strengths—18th- and 19th-century literature and history—and keeping up with all of the new or evolving research interests of faculty and students on campus. She is always thinking about how to make Hesburgh’s collections more accessible and, equally important, how to educate people about these collections. Recently, she partnered with a newly established network of librarians, the Libraries and Archives Group of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), to develop innovative ways for better developing collections. The network will take up this very issue at the upcoming roundtable discussion during the ACIS conference at Notre Dame, March 30-April 3, 2016.

After discovering that Hesburgh Libraries holds a wealth of sources documenting the Irish American perspective, Aedín developed an interest in Irish American history. When asked if there was a particular item that caught her attention, she smiled and said, “Yes, McGee’s Illustrated Weekly!” This was a newspaper founded by an American, James Redpath, who gave Americans a glimpse into Irish life, spattered with a bit of Irish and American humor, the latest fashion trends, and portraits of prominent Irishmen. Yet, Aedín’s love of the Irish language always draws her back. She is currently immersed in reading Visions of Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Éireann Film Series, 1956-1964 by B. Mairéad Pratschke.

Aedín can often be found digging through the Irish collections in RBSC. None of her colleagues is ever surprised when she comes skipping down the hall with the biggest smile you can imagine, as she did when she discovered that we have a large collection of yet-to-be processed historical Irish newspapers. It turned out that this is where she unearthed the copies of the Cork Examiner. Aedín’s wide-ranging knowledge of and curiosity about all things Irish can be seen in her current exhibit, Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion, which is on display in Rare Books Special Collections through April 28, 2016.

“Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion” Exhibit Opens

This year marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, the rebellion that led to the eventual establishment of an Irish Free State. The University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute is at the forefront of the impetus to re-examine the events of 1916, with Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s three-part documentary, 1916 The Irish Rebellion which will be shown on public television in Ireland, the U.S. and at screenings throughout the world.

Notre Dame will also be the center of Irish studies for five days this spring as host to ACIS (the American Conference for Irish Studies). Over a thousand visitors are expected at this conference.

Case5-Women-of-1916

In Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections, a special exhibit to mark this centenary is on display from February 12th until April 28th.

The exhibit draws from the Hesburgh Special Collections and includes books written by people involved in the events as well as contemporary accounts of the rebellion. Letters on display include one from Roger Casement. An extremely rare first edition of W. B. Yeats’s poem Easter, 1916 is part of the exhibit.

From the University Archives, a book recording the subscriptions of South Bend residents to an Irish government bond will be on display.

The exhibit is open to the public from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 17th at 4:30pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “Toxic Tales: Narrating Dioxin in Contemporary Italy” by Monica Seger (William and Mary) — Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Thursday, April 14th at 4:30pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “Boccaccio and Petrarch on Poetry: Genealogy of the Pagan Gods and Invectives against the Physician” by David Lummus (Stanford) — Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for March is:

Hoops and Herstory: Early Women’s Basketball History in the Joyce Sports Research Collection

Two exhibits that opened during the month of February continue:

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion

Native American Literature Before 1924 (Spring Semester Spotlight Exhibit)

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular 9-5 hours during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 7-11).