“… 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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Bindings in the Spotlight (5)

  Jean de Gonet (1950-) is one of the best-known modern French binders.  His work represents a revolution in traditional modern binding featuring visible sewing structures and the use of unusual materials, including metals, rubber and plastic.  On display are a number of examples taken from the Kessler Collection.  As an example of an unusual …

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Bindings in the Spotlight (3)

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 …

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Bindings in the Spotlight (1)

This year a regular monthly blog post will highlight some of the most interesting book and manuscript bindings in our collection. To begin, we are featuring a beautiful contemporary binding by James Brockman (b. 1946) of the French translation of Johann Goethe's 'Faust' (Kessler.bb.10).  Covered in full maroon Harmatan goatskin, the design has been tooled …

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From the Crewe Collection: Jonas Hanway and his bookbindings

Crewe 80.20 is a beautiful example of a ‘Hanway binding’, the name given to bindings specially commissioned by Jonas Hanway, an 18th century philanthropist.  Often bound in red morocco (goatskin) and decorated with distinctive tooling, these books were designed to catch the eye and to help circulate ideas and principles that were close to Hanway’s …

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Roubiliac in the Wren Library

The Wren Library houses a magnificent series of portrait busts by Louis François Roubiliac, the leading sculptor in England in the mid-18th century. By Wren’s time, there was a well-established tradition of furnishing libraries with painted and sculptural portraits. The subjects of these portraits would often be ancient and modern authors, great men worthy of …

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The Voyages Extraordinaires of Jules Verne

The Voyages Extraordinaires (literally Extraordinary Voyages or Extraordinary Journeys) are a sequence of fifty-four novels by the French writer Jules Verne (1828-1905), originally published between 1863 and 1905. According to Verne's editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel, the goal of the Voyages was "to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and …

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Autograph collector: George Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum

George Gery Milner-Gibson Cullum (1857-1921) of Hardwick House, Bury St Edmunds was High Sheriff of Suffolk 1888 and Mayor of Bury St Edmunds 1913-14. He amassed a large library and shared the passion of many of wealth for autographs, being a vice-president of the Society of Archivists and Autograph Collectors.  His autograph collection is now …

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Dürer and perspective

Albrecht Dürer (b. Nuremberg, 21 May 1471; d. Nuremberg, 6 April 1528) Painter, draughtsman, printmaker and writer. Now considered by many scholars the greatest of all German artists, he not only executed paintings and drawings of the highest quality but also made a major contribution to the development of printmaking, especially engraving, and to the …

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