Portraits in the Wren Library

Ten portraits hang in the Wren Library. They form part of a collection largely put together after the completion of the building in 1695. Portraits including sculpture were a recognised part of Library furnishing at that time and these paintings joined the sculptures described in an earlier blog. Most are an imposing size (over 2 …

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Italian Books in the Crewe Collection

The Crewe Collection comprises books in several different languages. The works in Italian, amounting to just 121 volumes, represent a tiny fraction of the total, but are nevertheless of great interest, and provide a reliable insight in the collecting habits of Richard Monckton Milnes (1809-1885). Although several books bear the bookplate of Richard’s son, Robert …

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Decorative Papers in the Dryden Album

The Dryden Album (R.14.23) is known for its beautiful images of Greek and Turkish costume but Susanne Krause, a paper decorator and researcher based in Hamburg, has recently drawn our attention to the fact that the interleaved papers in the album are also of special significance. When the album was catalogued in 1902, the interleaved …

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Thorvaldsen’s Statue of Byron

The Wren Library contains an exceptional collection of sculpture. One of the highlights is the magnificent statue of George Gordon, Lord Byron by Bertel Thorvaldsen. Byron, one of the greatest of English Romantic poets, was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge in 1805. He was at first “miserable and untoward to a degree …. wretched at …

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Manuscript Owners and a Newly-Identified Manuscript from the Austin Friars, London

Some medieval manuscripts will have had several owners and often information about these people can be found within the manuscripts themselves. This is often a simple statement of ownership such as that found at the bottom of folio 1 of manuscript B.15.1 which tells us that at one time it belonged to the Benedictine Cathedral …

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“… touches the very soul of anyone who first sees it”: the woodcarving of Grinling Gibbons in the Wren Library

Knowledgeable visitors to the Wren Library are quick to spot the magnificent woodcarvings which adorn pediments, alcoves, wainscoting and bookcases.  They often ask for confirmation from the Wren Attendants as to the identity of the carver and smile in the pleasure of recognition and self-congratulation at the answer they receive.  The fact that the name …

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