Friday, July 31, 2015


Picture Day Friday: Medieval Illuminated Manuscript: Book of Hours


Book of Hours: Three Marys at the Sepulchre from Walters Art Museum's collection of illuminated manuscripts. This is manuscript W.102, folio 7 verso or page 14.

"This is a finely illuminated and iconographically rich Book of Hours, made in England at the end of the thirteenth century. The manuscript is incomplete and misbound. Its main artist can also be found at work in a bible at Oxford's Bodleian Library (Ms. Auct. D.3.2) and a psalter at Cambridge's Trinity College (Ms. O.4.16). This manuscript contains a number of unusual texts including the Hours of Jesus Crucified and the Office of St. Catherine. The patron of the manuscript is not clear: a woman is depicted as praying in many of the initials, but rubrics in the Office of the Dead mention "frères". The imagery is marvelously inventive, and the Hours of Christ Crucified are graced with images depicting the Funeral of Reynard the Fox in its margins. In the absence of a calendar, it is not possible to locate the origin of the manuscript precisely."






Friday, July 24, 2015


Picture Day Friday: Medieval Paper Planner: They had them then, too!


Move aside washi tape and stamps and colorful inks and stickers. Medieval people loved to decorate their daily schedulers with illuminated images in brilliant colors, and they wrote with beautiful calligraphic hands in these beautiful planners. Here's a page from May (year unknown).


[Image copyrighted by the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts section.]

Another May calendar c.1500 from Ghent, The Netherlands. This was one busy guy.


[Image copyrighted by the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts section.]


Friday, July 17, 2015


Picture Day Friday: First Folio of Shakespeare's Plays


You can read the digital facsimile of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays held at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University. It was digitized two years ago and available free online.

According to Bodleian: "The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, dating from around 1623. During his lifetime, Shakespeare's plays were never published as a collection. It was only seven years after his death that two of his friends did so, publishing the First Folio. The 1000-page volume contains 36 plays — comedies, histories and tragedies — many of which would otherwise have been lost."


Friday, July 10, 2015


Picture Day Friday: Plato & Socrates


Plato instructs Socrates in how to transcribe a manuscript (Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Digby 46, f. 41v, s. xiv2)


Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Rare Book School at the University of Virginia


Every summer, the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville hosts week-long courses in June and July in the history of books and manuscripts, book design, book binding, paleography, history of illustrations and letterforms, and so on. In addition, the school offers certificate programs in various concentrations. Here's an overview of the type of things people will learn.

If you cannot make it to Charlottesville in June and July, the school also offers courses in other states: Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington (May); the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia in Philadelphia (July); at the Library of Congress in Washington (July); and at the Grolier Club and the New York Public Library in New York (October).

Prices are steep ($1295 per week) and the hours long and intense. If you cannot make it to any of the courses this or any other year, the school offers up for free advanced reading lists for all its courses. Students are required to have all the reading done before they arrive for the course.

Let me dream here. If I could've been in Charlottesville in June and July, this is what I would've taken:

June 7-12: Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books

June 14-19: The History of the Book, 200–2000; Introduction to Paleography, 800–1500; Printed Books to 1800: Description & Analysis

July 5-10: Advanced Seminar in the History of Bookbinding

July 19-24: Rare Book Cataloging; The Handwriting & Culture of Early Modern English Manuscripts

July 26-31: Provenance: Tracing Owners & Collections


Friday, July 3, 2015


Picture Day Friday: Rembrandt's Night Watch


In 1642, Rembrandt painted the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. It is popularly known as the "Night Watch."

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum's Notes on the painting:
"Rembrandt’s largest, most famous canvas was made for the Arquebusiers guild hall. This was one of several halls of Amsterdam’s civic guard, the city’s militia and police. Rembrandt was the first to paint figures in a group portrait actually doing something. The captain, dressed in black, is telling his lieutenant to start the company marching. The guardsmen are getting into formation. Rembrandt used the light to focus on particular details, like the captain’s gesturing hand and the young girl in the foreground. She was the company mascot."


[Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Click above to see a larger view.]