A Botanical Watercolourist at Trinity: Clarence Bicknell

Trinity College has seen many notable botanists pass through its doors, perhaps most famously John Ray and Francis Willughby, whose magnificent busts by Roubiliac adorn the entrance to the Wren Library. A small exhibition running until 4 July 2018 celebrates the botanical paintings of Clarence Bicknell, a student at Trinity in the 1860s who spent most of his working life in the Italian Riviera, where he died 100 years ago on 17 July 1918.

After graduating from Trinity, Clarence Bicknell followed a familiar path into the church, serving as a curate first in Newington, Surrey then Stoke-on-Tern in Shropshire, where he joined the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit. This semi-monastic community was founded by another Trinity man, Rowland Corbet, a leading light of the Oxford Movement whose beliefs were contrary to those of the Unitarianism of Clarence’s father. In 1878, perhaps inspired by Corbet’s own visits to the Italian Riviera, Bicknell accepted a one year appointment as deacon of the Anglican church in Bordighera.

Clarence came from an artistic family: his father Elhanan Bicknell, whale oil magnate and art patron, collected works of art by renowned British artists such as Turner, Gainsborough and Landseer, while his mother, Lucinda Browne, was the aunt of Phiz, the illustrator of Charles Dickens’s books. In 1878 Clarence gave up his role in the church to concentrate on botany. He developed considerable skill as a botanical artist: within five years he had painted over 1,100 botanical watercolours and had published Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Riviera. He donated over 3,300 of his botanical plates to Genoa University and another 1,100 are in other museums and collections. Clarence was a driving force in a network of many of the leading botanists of the day such as Emile Burnat in Switzerland, Augusto Béguinot in Genoa and Harold Stuart Thompson in the UK, with whom he exchanged samples and correspondence.

Bicknell’s Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Riviera (1885) beside his copies of kaleidoscopic versions of the same flowers (c.1910)

Clarence started going up into the Maritime Alps behind Bordighera in the 1890s to extend his botanical research from coastal specimens, and also perhaps to escape from the stifling atmosphere of the summer heat and the vie mondaine of the summer visitors on the coast. From 1897 onwards he became more and more absorbed by the study of the prehistoric rock engravings that he had been told existed in the Mont Bégo area, now in the Parc du Mercantour, a French national Park about an hour’s drive north of Nice. He and his helper Luigi Pollini discovered, logged and made rubbings of 11,000 rock engravings and published in 1902 The Prehistoric Rock Engravings in the Italian Maritime Alps.

Clarence’s artistic talents flourished when he could let his creative and design skills come to the fore, when he was not restricted by doing meticulous botanical and archaeological recording. This manifested itself in the creation of hand-painted vellum-bound albums that he did for friends and relations. His niece Margaret Berry gave him a blank album every year which he then returned to her completed. The albums represent the height of Clarence’s artistic talent with a delightful blend of Victorian whimsy and design skill, clearly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. At least fourteen are known to exist, seven of which were donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1980 and two of which are on display in the Wren Library.

A Children’s Picture Book of Wild Plants is carefully designed and colour-coordinated, with four plants illustrated on the right often with a frame, and on the left a description of each plant. Clarence, in this and many of the albums, delighted in taking the colours and details of flowers as motifs for the frame and for decorative capital letters.

A Children’s Picture Book of Wild Plants, Bicknell family collection

The Book of Guests in Esperanto provides potted biographies of several of Clarence’s friends in Esperanto. His notes are on the left page with their initials illuminated and a flower in a matching border on the right. Clarence was a great believer in the universal language Esperanto and felt it could be a formula for world peace. He attended international congresses, taught it to friends and wrote poems and hymns. There are pages ranging from eminent botanists and archaeologists to three dogs in the family. This page is for his nephew Arthur Berry, lecturer in mathematics at Cambridge and sometime Vice-Provost of King’s College.

The Book of Guests in Esperanto , Bicknell family collection
Signatures from the Casa Fontanalba Visitors’ Book, Bicknell family collection

The Casa Fontanalba Visitors’ Book was created for Bicknell’s home in the mountains, the Casa Fontanalba, which he built in 1906, adorning it with frescoes of mountain scenes, wild flowers, friezes, initials of visitors and proverbs in Esperanto. The visitors’ book has a wild flower in an arts-and-crafts border on the right and signatures of about 250 visitors, including famous archaeologists, botanists, writers, Esperantists, soldiers and politicians.

 

 

A new film about Clarence Bicknell is available here

See more of  Clarence Bicknell’s paintings in the exhibition ‘Floral Fantasies’ at the Fitzwilliam Museum until 9 September 2018

Marvels: The Life of Clarence Bicknell by Valerie Lester, a new biography, is published in June 2018. For more information see www.clarencebicknell.com.

 

 

Wifredo Lam : Livres d’artiste [2]

Giorgio Upiglio, Wifredo Lam and Ghérasim Luca working on Apostroph’Apocalypse, Milan, 1965

In an earlier post we looked at Wifredo Lam’s collaboration with Antonin Artaud and Aimé Césaire. Here we consider his work in producing books with the writers Ghérasim Luca, René Char and Jean-Dominique Rey.

Apostroph’Apocalypse

Apostroph’Apocalypse, title-page, designed and printed at Giorgio Upiglio’s studio, Milan, 1967 (Milan: Grafica Uno, 1967) Kessler.bb.33 (copy no. 73 of 135)

Wifredo Lam’s grandest and most complex book is the remarkable Apostroph’Apocalypse, a collaboration with the poet Ghérasim Luca (1913–94). In 1952 Luca had fled his native Romania via Israel to Paris, where his work was already known in Surrealist circles through his pre-War publications and his correspondence with André Breton. His poems often involve sophisticated word-play, and Apostroph’Apocalypse is based around the conceit of an apostrophe which breaks words into atomic particles and thereby causes apocalyptic destruction.

Apostroph’Apocalypse, the first page of text with forebodings of nuclear desctruction

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 provides one of many backdrops to this publication, which was eventually completed in 1967.

Apostroph’Apocalypse was recently described in Le Monde as ‘one of the finest books of the twentieth century’.

Wifredo Lam and Ghérasim Luca travelled to Milan to work on their ambitious publication, in order to take full advantage of the skills available there. The paper was specially manufactured for this edition by Filicarta of Brugherio, with a watermark consisting of the title of the book. Luca’s text presented considerable complexity for its typesetter, Luigi Maestri, in the placement and format not only of each word, but even of individual letters within a word.

The greatest sophistication, however, was reserved for the 14 plates which Lam contributed to the book. In this work he was greatly aided by Giorgio Upiglio, the greatest Italian art printer of the second half of the century. Upiglio devised a method to allow Lam to draw freely on bitumen powder spread on copperplates, which were then heated to fix the drawings before they were bathed in acid. This novel technique enabled a heightened granular texture to the impression of the plates, which gives a more visceral appearance in direct light.

René Char

René Char (1907–88), the great poet whose name is associated as much with the Surrealists as with the Résistance, first discovered Lam’s work at the Galerie Pierre in 1945. The initial shock of the violent forms of Lam’s paintings and the life represented in them was mitigated by the warmth and refinement of the artist’s personality when they met the following year. Their first formal collaboration came in 1953 with Le Rempart de brindilles (The Battlements of Twigs), a brief meditation on the nature of poetry to which Lam contributed 5 etchings.

Char and Lam worked together on a grander scale many years later in Contre une maison sèche (Against a Dry House), a book presenting 17 aphoristic verses by Char alongside 9 large etchings by Lam. The images are in dialogue with the poems, intended not as illustrations so much as ‘illuminations’. Char’s concise texts aim for the re-establishment of ‘a sovereignty within language’. Each page confronts stark images of a freedom present within the material world with enigmatic reflections on history and the corruption of human consciousness. Lam’s plates meanwhile convey explosive movements, fulgurances or metamorphic bolts of lightning.

René Char, Contre une maison sèche, eaux-fortes de Wifredo Lam (Paris: Jean Hugues, 1975 [1976]). Kessler.bb.24 (copy no. 46 of 175)
As with Apostroph’ Apocalypse, Lam worked on the plates at Giorgio Upiglio’s workshop in Milan. The book was published in Paris by Jean Hugues in a luxurious edition on vélin de rives paper in a raw silk-covered folder and slipcase. The typeset portions were printed at the Imprimerie Union in Paris before the sheets were taken to Milan for the printing from plates. The plates are etchings with aquatint in colours, and unusually are cropped to fit the already large pages (380 x 550 mm): the copperplates used for the publication extended a little beyond the edge of the page.

A mock-up of Contre une maison sèche was first displayed in 1971, but it was not until 1976 that the publication was eventually completed. In 1972 Char wrote to Lam to encourage him to finish his work, looking forward to the publication of the book and writing that otherwise the ‘dry house’ of the title would not only dry out but also (financially) ‘dry him out’:

Il serait bien pour moi que tu achèves notre livre. Cette “maison sèche” va, sinon, completement sècher et me sècher!

In a pamphlet issued for the exhibition of the publication of Contre une maison sèche in 1976, Char explains some of the inspiration that lay behind Lam’s vivid plates. He describes his first sight of Lam’s paintings, in the Galerie Pierre Loeb in Paris, in 1947 or 48:

Deux toiles noueuses, agressivement surgies de terre, dégageaient leur violent et lancinant arôme de forêts réconciliées avec personnages imminents (pieds et mains y tentaient une apparition) [. . . ] Les couleurs des cubistes étaient les seules qui convenaient à leurs ouvrages ; les seules couleurs aussi que les œuvres superbes de Lam exigeaint ce jour-là.

 Two knotty canvases, aggressively erected from the ground, released their violent and haunting aroma of forests reconciled with imminent characters (feet and hands were trying to make an appearance) [. . .] The colours of the Cubists were the only ones that suited their works; the only colours as well that the superb works of Lam required on that day.

L’Herbe sous les pavés

At the end of Wifredo Lam’s life he formed a new collaboration with the poet, art critic and writer Jean-Dominique Rey (1926–2016). Their joint publication L’Herbe sous les paves was Rey’s first collection of short stories, a genre in which he was to become well known, and was Lam’s last work, published only weeks before his death.

Jean-Dominique Rey, L’Herbe sous les pavés, eaux-fortes de Wifredo Lam
(Paris: Imprimerie Mérat; Milan: Giorgio Upiglio, 1982). Kessler.a.68 (copy no. 35 of 122)

The title of the collection, L’Herbe sous les pavés, refers to a saying from the revolutionary events of May ’68, ‘there is grass growing under the cobbles’. This was later adapted more famously as ‘sous les pavés la plage’, a reference to the piles of cobblestones forming barricades placed on sandy ground. In both forms there is a direct resonance with the underground movement.

Each of the five short stories in the book is accompanied by an etching. The final plate, a very simple etching in three colours with three dogs, accompanies a story beguilingly entitled L’Aube et puis… (Dawn, and then…). Lam drew on the copperplates in his apartment in Paris. The plates were heated in his kitchen oven by Giorgio Upiglio and then etched at the studio of George Goetz. The text was printed in Paris and the plates in Milan. Lam signed all the copies in July 1982, and a notice of his death (on 11 September) was added in a second colophon.

The exhibition Wifredo Lam: livres d’artistes closes to the general public on 12 June 2018 and to members of college on 14 June, but the collection of books illustrated by Lam remains available for consultation by readers in the Wren Library.

Further Reading:

https://europeancollections.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/wifredo-lam-and-aime-cesaire/#more-12444

http://pluton-magazine.com/2018/06/12/wifredo-lam-a-cambridge-university/

 

Wifredo Lam : Livres d’artiste [1]

 

Wifredo Lam with Pablo Picasso, Vallauris, 1954

The Cuban-born artist Wifredo Lam (1902–82) was a pioneer in incorporating non-Western ideas into his creations. A special exhibition is on display in the Wren Library until 14 June 2018, which celebrates Lam’s collaborations with several of the leading French-language poets of the twentieth century to produce livres d’artiste.

Of mixed African, Spanish and Chinese ancestry, Wifredo Lam quickly developed a distinctive style influenced by Cubism and the Surrealist movement, often involving elaborate hybrid figures. His work with the poets Aimé Césaire, Ghérasim Luca and René Char led to a series of editions printed to the highest standards in very limited numbers, and in most cases the copy in the Wren Library is the only known example in the UK. These special editions were recently presented to Trinity College by Nicholas Kessler (1937–2018).

In this, the first of two blog-posts on Lam’s collaborations with writers and poets, we examine some of his works with Antonin Artaud and Aimé Césaire.

Behind the Mirror

Derrière le miroir, N° 52: Lam (Paris: Maeght, February 1953) Pam.a.95.12

Derrière le miroir was a monthly publication which served as the catalogue for each exhibition at the Galerie Maeght: 253 numbers were published between 1946 and 1982. This issue was published in February 1953 and consists of a single folded sheet reproducing three new lithographs by Lam, together with a list of his exhibited paintings and a collection of endorsements of his work by notable artists and writers including Pablo Picasso, Herbert Read, Aimé Césaire, René Char, Georges Braque and André Breton.

Lam’s drawings had been used as illustrations in books in earlier years. His first experiment in printmaking was an etching produced in 1945 to illustrate a book by Pierre Loeb, Voyages à travers la peinture, published in 1946. The prints of Derrière le miroir are among his earliest works to employ the lithographic technique, and use bold blocks of colour in a manner which he was soon to abandon.

Artaud in Mexico

Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) was a major figure in the theatre of the avant-garde. After staging various notorious but financially compromising productions in Paris in the 1920s and early 30s, in 1936 he travelled to Mexico, where he investigated local forms of spirituality, recording details of his travels and of his experiments with hallucinogenic drugs. While in Mexico he wrote Le théâtre et les dieux, an attack on the present state of theatre, asserting that the day of surrealism had passed and developing a new urgency for his formulation of théâtre de la cruauté, the Theatre of Cruelty.

Antonin Artaud, Le Théâtre et les dieux, eaux-fortes de Wifredo Lam ([Paris]: Aubry-Rueff, 1966). Kessler.c.58 (copy no. 61 of 110)
The colophon to this edition is signed by Lam and by the publishers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lam immediately saw the implications which Artaud’s text on Mexico held for his own exploration of the complex cultural history of his native island, an encounter which was by this time creating in his paintings a great metamorphic theatre of sensuous animal-gods. Artaud’s text also contains a message to which Lam must have been sensitive, when he writes of Balthus, ‘He paints like someone who would know the secret of lightning’.

The essay was reprinted in May 1966 in an edition by Aubry-Rueff for which Lam produced 5 etchings, each with aquatint in colours. The aquatints were printed by Georges Leblanc in a studio first established in Paris in 1793.

Brunidor

The collector and financier Robert Altmann (1915–2017) fled Nazi Germany and established himself in Havana in 1941, where he met Wifredo Lam. Soon after this encounter he set up Brunidor Editions, which published lithographic prints to a high standard in New York and later in Paris, where Altmann became closely involved with the Lettristes. Lam contributed to Altmann’s first portfolio in 1947, alongside Max Ernst, Joan Miró and others. His third portfolio was published in Paris in 1961, and includes one of Lam’s brightest and most explosive lithographic prints alongside the work of four other artists. Among these is an arresting piece by Isidor Isou, the founder of Lettrism, and a rare lithograph by Ghérasim Luca, the poet of Romanian origin with whom Lam would later collaborate on his largest book project, Apostroph’Apocalypse. A rare set of these lithographs has been lent for display in the exhibition by Archiv AcquAvivA, Berlin.

Aimé Césaire

Wifredo Lam and Aimé Césaire in Havana, 1967

Aimé Césaire, one of the great poets of the 20th century, published his masterpiece, the Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land) in 1939 in Paris, before returning to his native Martinique. Wifredo Lam, who was sailing with André Breton towards the Americas, met Césaire in Martinique in April 1941. Lam was deeply moved by the poetry of Césaire and they became friends. In 1942 Lam drew the frontispiece for the first edition of Césaire’s poem in book form, published in Cuba in a translation by Lydia Cabrera, with a preface by Benjamin Péret. In 1945 Pierre Mabille published a long study of Lam’s massive painting La Jungle in Tropiques, the journal published by Aimé and Susanne Césaire in Fort-de-France.

Césaire’s Cahier was first published in 1939 in the magazine Volontés. The exhibition includes the original offprint of the magazine printing, in one of very few surviving copies, inscribed ‘To Wifredo Lam, in token of friendship and admiration, this poem of our revolts, our hopes, our fervour—Fort-de-France, May 1941, A. Césaire’. Lam was so struck by the power of Césaire’s text that he determined to have a Spanish-language edition published in Havana. The illustrations Lam provided for the 1943 Havana edition, translated by the anthropologist Lydia Cabrera, included an anthropomorphic horse figure. These illustrations act as the first published commentary on Césaire’s long poem.

Also on display are the autograph manuscript and signed typescript of Césaire’s poem ‘Simouns’, dedicated to Lam. This poem on the desert wind, Simoom, conceives the fires of liberation in an imagined Africa. The manuscript of an essay by Césaire, ‘Wifredo Lam et les Antilles’, records that ‘painting is one of the rare weapons left to us against the sordidness of history’.

‘passages’, from Annonciation (1969, 1982)

Lam and Césaire spent many years in planning a collaborative publication. In 1969 Lam had created a series of nine etchings richly coloured in aquatint, and in 1979 he showed them to Césaire. This inspired Césaire to write a set of ten poems, which were eventually published in a portfolio together with seven of Lam’s etchings in 1982, shortly before Lam’s death.

A second blog-post will discuss Lam’s collaborations with Ghérasim Luca and René Char.

Further Reading:

https://europeancollections.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/wifredo-lam-and-aime-cesaire/#more-12444

http://pluton-magazine.com/2018/06/12/wifredo-lam-a-cambridge-university/

 

 

Christopher Columbus and the Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books

A new book by Edward Wilson-Lee, Fellow of our neighbouring Sidney Sussex College and a regular reader in the Wren Library, tells the scarcely believable – and wholly true – story of Christopher Columbus’s bastard son Hernando, who sought to equal and surpass his father’s achievements by creating a universal library. Here we take a sideways look at Christopher Columbus and his son through a selection of books in the Wren Library.

La Casa de Colón

Georg Braun, Civitates orbis terrarvm (Cologne: Apud Petrum à Brachel, 1612). U.15.19

This splendidly illustrated account of the great cities of the world, printed in five large volumes in 1612–18, devotes a single plate to the three cities of Seville, Cadiz and Malaga. The perspective of Seville shows Hernando’s house, ‘La Casa de Colón’, next to the Puerta de Goles. The text was compiled by Georg Braun, and the engraved plates, hand-coloured in this copy, are largely the work of Franz Hogenberg.

As a youth, Hernando Colón spent years travelling in the New World, one of them marooned with his father in a shipwreck off Jamaica. He created a dictionary and a geographical encyclopedia of Spain, oversaw the first modern maps of the world, visited almost every major European capital and associated with many of the great people of his day, from Ferdinand and Isabella to Erasmus, Thomas More and Albrecht Dürer.

“Their words have gone out to the end of the world”

Psalterium, Hebrecum, Grecum, Arabicum, & Chaldaeum, cum tribus latinis interpretatonibus & glossis (Genoa: Impressit Petrus Paulus Porrus, in aedibus Nicolai Iustiniani Pauli, 1516). A.14.6

One of the first ever biographical notices of Christopher Columbus is printed rather unexpectedly in the margins of this scholarly edition of the Book of Psalms, printed in Genoa in 1516. It is apparently the first polyglot work ever published, and presents the Psalter in eight columns with the Hebrew, a literal Latin version of the Hebrew, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, the Arabic, the Chaldean (in Hebrew characters), a literal Latin version of the Chaldean, and scholia in the right-hand column. The editor, Agostino Giustiniani, generally made brief notes in the final column relating to textual questions, but an exception is made for Psalm 19, at the fourth verse:

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

A lengthy biographical notice about Christopher Columbus is attached to this verse and spreads over the following five pages (for the full biographical notice see here). Columbus had earlier used this psalm to substantiate his claim that his discoveries were not random events but rather a key part of God’s plan. Through this widely-read edition of the psalter, his discoveries became part of the meaning of the psalm, the fulfilment of its prophecy. Unfortunately the note is riddled with factual errors, and it would not have been pleasing to Hernando that it opens with the damaging allegation that Columbus was vilibus ortus parentibus—born of low stock.

Columbus in the service of Pope Innocent VIII

Chronica delle vite de pontefici et imperatori Romani, composta per M. Francesco Petrarcha (Venice: Per Maestro Iacomo de pinci da Lecco, 1507). Grylls 6.190, f. 88.

The earliest reference to Christopher Columbus in the holdings of the Wren Library appears in this history of the lives of the popes, printed in Venice in 1507. The book is spuriously attributed to Petrarch, who died in 1374. The account of Pope Innocent VIII, who like Columbus was Genoese by birth, reports that it was during his pontificate that Columbus discovered the New World. This echoes the inscription on the tomb of Innocent VIII at St Peter’s in Rome which states ‘Nel tempo del suo Pontificato, la gloria della scoperta di un nuovo mondo’ (‘During his Pontificate, the glory of the discovery of a new world’). But in fact Innocent VIII died on 25 July 1492, a week before Columbus first set sail across the Atlantic.

Columbus in Hexameters

Ivlii Caesaris Stellae Nobilis Romani Colvmbeidos libri priores duo (Rome, 1590). III.9.57

The ‘Columbeidos’ is the earliest attempt by any poet to treat Columbus’s discovery of the New World as heroic fantasy. It was written in Latin in the Vergilian epic style by the grandly named poet Guilio Cesare Stella (1564–1624) and takes up more than 1700 lines of Latin hexameters. The poem is dedicated to Philip II, King of Spain and Prince of the Indies. It was first printed in London in 1585, and this Roman edition dates from 1590.

A Utopian Library Catalogue

Thomas More, De optimo reip. statv deqve noua insula Vtopia libellus uere aureus, nec minus salutaris quàm festiuus (Basel: Apvd Io. Frobenivm, 1518). Grylls 7.12, pp. 12–13.

Hernando Colón bought a copy of this book, the second edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, in Ghent in 1520, and read it in Brussels in 1522. Many aspects of the book were reflected in Hernando’s life: voyages of exploration, maps, printing, language, and the search for forms of perfection hitherto unknown. This edition includes a map of the fictitious country designed by Hans Holbein’s brother Ambrosius, and a short poem printed in the Utopian language and using the Utopian alphabet, written by the founder and first king of the country, Utopus. The printer (Froben of Basel) went to great trouble to have a special set of type cast for this poem, and it seems that it inspired Hernando to devise his own secret alphabet of very similar ‘biblioglyphs’ to describe the books in his beloved library.

Tennyson’s Columbus

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ballads and Other Poems (London, 1880). G.18.65, pp.138-9

‘Columbus’ is one of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s later poems, written in 1879–80 and first published in Ballads and Other Poems (1880). His son Hallam records that it was composed at the request of ‘certain prominent Americans that he would commemorate the discovery of America in verse’. Tennyson derived his view of Columbus as a religious enthusiast with a visionary mind from Washington Irving’s Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. The poem presents the aged navigator, now ignored and living in poverty, defeated by the selfishness and lust that had triumphed over Columbus’s ideals in the Spanish court. The poem has been understood as conveying Tennyson’s own fears about the decay of society in his later years.

Further reading:

Edward Wilson-Lee, The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library (London: William Collins, 2018)

From the Crewe Collection: Goya Etchings

Among the greatest treasures in the Crewe Collection are three volumes of etchings by Francisco Goya (1746-1823), currently on display in the Library for the first time. It is likely that Richard Monckton Milnes acquired these in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. These volumes were accepted in lieu of inheritance Tax by H M Government from the estate of Mary Evelyn, Duchess of Roxburghe, and allocated to Trinity College in 2016.

Los Caprichos (Crewe 156.8)

Goya issued this first collection of prints in 1799. The set of 80 pictures offers a deeply satirical condemnation of the social norms of his day, and is far darker than the title of ‘Caprices’ would lead one to expect. The plates were produced with a combination of etching and aquatint, and this first edition was overseen by the artist himself. Five further etchings are bound at the end of the volume.

 

Capricho No. 5
Tal para cual (Two of a kind)

Los desastres de la guerra (Crewe 156.9)

Goya’s second collection of prints, ‘The Disasters of War’, was created between 1810 and 1820, as a reaction to the Peninsular War and the resultant famine which affected Madrid in 1811-12. Goya described the series of 82 plates as depicting ‘the fatal consequences of Spain’s bloody war with Bonaparte, and other forceful caprices’. Almost all of the images are deeply disturbing, and they have inspired reactions from many artists in later generations. Although Goya had printed a few proofs of all the plates in his lifetime, they were not issued as a set until many years after his death, in 1863. This set is a fairly early copy of the first edition.

Plate 4: Las mujeres dan valor (The women give courage)

La Tauromaquia (Crewe 156.10)

Goya produced the 33 prints of La Tauromaquia in 1815-16, at the age of 69, while working on the Desastres de la Guerra. The plates depict the various techniques of bull-fighting, with a particular focus on its more violent aspects. In several of the pictures the spectators are shown in shadowy form in the background. The prints were made for Goya in 1816 in an edition of 320 copies, and complete sets are now much rarer than the Caprichos and the Desastres.

No. 4: Capean otro encerrado (They play another with the cape in an enclosure)

For those of you who are able to visit the Library in person, the pages of each volume will be turned each week in order to display different prints. Digital images of the all three volumes can be found in the Wren Digital Library.

Bindings in the Spotlight (4)

S.18.36, front

This presentation copy of Gesner’s Historia animalium (Zurich, 1551) was bound for Edward VI. The initials ‘ER’ are in three panels on the spine. Gold-tooled decorative bindings such as this were popular during the sixteenth century in England. The decoration was achieved by pressing heated tools through gold leaf into the leather. The binding is brown calf with the royal arms bearing the motto of the Order of the Garter: ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’. The arms on the cover are built up by a series of gouges (created using a single-line finishing tool with a curved edge which forms a segment of a concentric circle) and fillets (a plain line – or sometimes parallel lines – created using a wheel-shaped finishing tool). Below is the motto of the British monarch: ‘Dieu et mon droit’. This inscription is also on the plain, gauffered edges. Gauffering involves using heated finishing tools or rolls to produce indented repeat patterns.

The tooled work on this binding has elements in common with another binding on a volume now in the Pierpont Morgan Library which formerly belonged to Anne Bacon (c. 1528-1610) see here. The correspondences between these two bindings confirm that this binding is English. The volume was donated to the Library by Sir Henry Puckering (alias Newton) some time between 1691 and 1701.

 

 

 

Warden Abbey Manuscripts

Trinity College Library has the largest collection of manuscripts in the country from the Cistercian Abbey of Warden in Bedfordshire. These 14 volumes have recently been digitised and are freely available online via the James Catalogue of Western Manuscripts. They can be viewed by selecting Warden Abbey from the drop-down list of religious houses as a field specific catalogue search. Alternatively you can use the following links:

B.3.22, Augustine

B.4.8, Gregorius, Moralia, XII–XXIII

B.4.11, Origenes, Homiliae

B.4.12, Gregorius; Origenes; Beda

B.4.13, Cassiodorus in Psalmos LI–C

B.4.14, Cassiodorus in Psalmos CI–CL

B.4.15, Augustinus, De verbis domini

B.4.16, Iohannes Chrysostomus, Hom. in Hebr., in Matt

B.4.17, Hieronymus in Ieremiam et Danielem

B.4.31, Ambrosii tractatus

B.4.32, Beda in Genesim, etc

B.5.11, Hieronymus in Isaiam

B.15.26, Hieronymus, De sacramentis I.

O.2.25, Ricardus de S. Victore

At the start of one of the Warden volumes (B.4.15) there is a list of titles headed by the name R. Manley. Of the 32 titles listed, 16 are in the Wren Library contained within the Warden volumes. One other title owned by the Library (B.3.23) appears on Manley’s list but has not, to date, been verified as from Warden. Manley has not been identified with certainty but this list suggests that Warden manuscripts were in his ownership in the 16th century. These titles were later included in a list in the College Memoriale (R.17.8)  – a volume describing benefactors to Trinity – as ‘ad collegium pertinentes’, ie ‘belonging to the college’. The placing of the list in the volume implies that the donation was made between 1633 and 1637, but there is no indication of who gave them. Former Librarian, Philip Gaskell suggested that they may have been received by the college in payment of a debt.

B.4.15, f.1v
R.17.8, f.115r

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the Warden manuscripts date from the 12th/early 13th century which suggests that they were at the abbey soon after its foundation in 1135. The Abbey was surrendered to the Crown on 4th December 1537 and there is now nothing left of the original buildings. The photograph below shows only the remaining section of the 5-bedroom farmhouse built after the suppression by Robert Gostwick. The greater part of the farmhouse (often referred to as a mansion) was demolished c.1785 before the site was purchased by Samuel Whitbread.

Gostwick Mansion, south front © Margaret Roberts

Further Information can be found on the Medieval Libraries of Great Britain Database.

With thanks to Margaret Roberts.

 

 

 

The Wren Library by Mark Draper (2017)

Model of the Wren Library by Mark Draper, presented to the college in 2018.

Last week Trinity College received a very special gift. Since retiring from his career as a special needs teacher with curriculum responsibilities for creative arts, Mark Draper has combined his interests in architecture and ceramics by making clay models of favourite buildings. Mark has a studio at his home in Rushton, Northamptonshire, where he produces working drawings and plaster moulds enabling the construction of limited editions. His current project is to create models of buildings in Cambridge designed by Christopher Wren. A Perspex cover for the Wren model was donated by Michael Squire, a Member of College.

The model can currently be seen in the Wren Library during public opening hours.

Bindings in the Spotlight [3]

Image of binding by Paul Bonet for 1937 edition of Alphonse Daudet's Tartarin de Tarascon

Designed by the famous French binder Paul Bonet (1889-1971) in 1949, this is one of 28 different copies or versions of the 1937 edition of Alphonse Daudet’s ‘Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon’ (Kessler.a.28).  Daudet’s 1872 novel concerns the town of Tarascon and the misadventures of a certain Tartarin:

“The Provençal town of Tarascon is so enthusiastic about hunting that no game lives anywhere near it, and its inhabitants resort to telling hunting stories and throwing their own caps in the air to shoot at them. Tartarin, a plump middle-aged man, is the chief “cap-hunter”, but following his enthusiastic reaction to seeing an Atlas lion in a travelling menagerie, the over-imaginative town understands him to be planning a hunting expedition to Algeria.

So as not to lose face, Tartarin is forced to go, after gathering an absurd mass of equipment and weapons. On the boat from Marseille to Algiers, he hooks up with a conman posing as a Montenegrin prince who takes advantage of him in multiple ways. Tartarin’s gullibility causes him a number of misadventures until he returns home penniless but covered in glory after shooting a tame, blind lion.”

Wikipedia

For more of Bonet’s designs, have a look at these wonderful examples.

From the Crewe Collection: Books belonging to Robert Southey

Robert Southey by Mary Dawson Turner (née Palgrave), after Thomas Phillips etching, (1815), NPG D15738

The Crewe collection contains four items belonging to the British poet, Robert Southey, who was born in in Bristol in 1774 and died in London in 1843.  He lived much of his life in Keswick where he supported, in addition to his own family, the wife of Coleridge and her three children after the poet abandoned them, as well as the widow of poet Robert Lovell and her son.

He published his first collection of poems in 1795 and in 1813 became Poet Laureate, a post he held until his death. Southey was a prolific poet, essayist, historian, travel-writer, biographer, translator and polemicist. Although he is little read today, Southey was an influential and controversial figure in British culture from the mid-1790s through to the mid-1830s.

Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797), made use of letters Southey had written to friends during his time in the Iberian Peninsula, blurring the boundaries between private and public correspondence. In 1807 he returned to the epistolary travel book genre, publishing Letters from England under the pseudonym of Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, an account of a tour supposedly from a foreigner’s viewpoint. This was one of Southey’s best-selling publications. He also published a History of the Peninsular War, in 3 volumes between 1823 and 1832.

Crewe 31/17

Southey’s interest in Spain is reflected in his ownership of a rare copy of the book, Memoires Curieux Envoyez de Madrid (1690) [Crewe 31.17] which he inscribed on the title page and dated London 1820.

This book covers topics such a bull-fighting, maxims and proverbs of Spain and the custom of infant betrothal in the Spanish Royal family.

He also owned

Antoniana Margarita, opus nempè physicis, medicis, ac theologis, non minus utile, quàm necessarium  by  Gometium Pereyram, medicum Methynæ Duelli, quae Hispanorum lingua  appellatur. (1749) [Crewe Collection]

This copy is interesting as it was annotated by Coleridge in 1812.  Writing in Keswick, he used the front fly leaf to address Southey and disparage his interest in bullfights.  He wrote:

P.22. Notice this, dearest Southey! as a curious specimen of the argumentum ad hominem from the Spanish Metaphysician to his Spanish Readers!  If you do not admit the cogency of these & the following arguments, it is impossible for you without the most flagrant, as well as demonstrable inhumanity, or rather anti-christian atrocity, to continue to enjoy Bullfights!

Front flyleaf verso from Antoniana Margarita
Crewe 31.5

The third book in the Crewe collection owned by Southey is Les imaginaires, ou, Lettres sur l’heresie imaginaire by Sr. de Damvilliers (1667) [Crewe 31.5 & 6]. This bears an ink inscription on the verso of the flyleaf preceding the title page: Robert Southey, Rouen 5 Sept. 1838. This work is a defence of the Jansenist schools of Port Royal against the Jesuits who brought about their closure in 1660.

The final book from Southey’s library is

Antient Christianity revived: being a description of the doctrine, discipline and practice, of the little city of Bethania. Collected out of her great charter, the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed by the same, for the satisfaction and benefit of the house of the poor by William Pardoe. (1688) [Crewe 74.17]

This book, written by a Baptist pastor who spent some weeks in prison for attending a Nonconformist meeting in 1683, contains the autograph of Robert Southey on the title page: Robert Southey. Keswick 16 Nov. 1829.

Southey was interested in religious topics. He wrote The Life of Wesley in 1820 [V.23.35 & V.23.36] and The book of the Church in 1824 [Grylls 25.247 & Grylls 25.248].


Footnote: The etching of Southey at the start of the post is by Mary Dawson Turner. Mary was the wife of the botanist, banker and antiquary Dawson Turner (1775-1858) whose extensive collection of letters is kept in Trinity College Library (catalogued here).