Like @Art! – Militant Eroticism: The Art+ Positive Archives – An LGBTQ+ History Book Recommendation

Inspired by the theme of last month’s LGBTQ+ History Month – ‘Medicine – #UndertheScope’ – I have decided to highlight a book in the Art Library’s collections that I feel very enthusiastic about.

Front cover of the Art Library’ Militant Eroticism. Image credit Ashley Parry

That book is the exhibition catalogue Militant Eroticism: The ART+Positive Archives. The exhibition which it documents – curated by Dr. Daniel S. Berger and John Neff – took place in Chicago in 2015 and combines ephemera and art-pieces from Art+Positive. That collective formed in 1989 as an affinity group of the famous ACT UP / New York.

Sheet of Art+ Positive protest chants on page 5 of Militant Eroticism

There is an understandable reticence to discussing the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s as it is very easy for such discussions to focus solely on tropes of fatalism and tragedy. However, it is my belief that focusing down on the specifics of the lives and works of activists – ‘under the scope’ – reveals examples of resilience and strategies for care that can inform discourses on health and art today – relevant not only within LGBTQ+ communities, but potentially to us all. The Militant Eroticism exhibition provides many such examples, blending as it does, ephemera, such as lined sheets of scribbled notes and protest chants, with artworks by the likes of Ray Navarro and David Wojnarowicz. As John Neff, one of the exhibition’s curators, describes it, ‘Art+Positive’s project was irreverent, hysterical, pleasurable, and deeply serious.’[1]

In particular, it was Navarro’s piece Equipped, which was a centrepiece of the exhibition, that spoke to me most strongly. This triptych of photos features various prosthetic devices with cheeky, innuendo-laden captions – an upside-down wheelchair entitled Hot Butt, a walking frame on its side called Studwalk and an upside-down cane dubbed Third Leg. I was struck by how the piece manages to succinctly convey a powerful message about disabled queer life, which its humour serves to enhance. The fact that queer disabled people not only exist but have active sex lives should not still be a radical statement in 2024, but, even though awareness is growing it is something that is often forgotten. For evidence of this forgetfulness one only need look at examples of inaccessible queer-friendly venues and Pride events.[2] [3] [4]

 

The Equipped triptych from pages 26-27 of Militant Eroticism.

But, there is even more to be understood about this piece and this book, and some further enlightenment can be found in Debra Levine’s essay on pages 37 to 51. In the essay, Levine explains not only the story of how Navarro’s piece was made, but also how it fits into its wider context.

Ray Navarro photographed at the 1989 “Stop the Church” demonstration in New York City, from page 36 of Militant Eroticism.

She describes how, as Navarro was, at that time, blind and unable to walk, he called upon Aldo Hernandez and Zoe Leonard to be his amanuenses, and recounts how Leonard described this not as a collaborative effort, but ‘understood [herself] as a prosthesis for the disabled body.’ Levine tells this story as just one concrete example of what she calls ‘prosthetic politics’ – a practice which she argues was a key feature of AIDS activism and which ‘enabled members disabled with physical complications from HIV and AIDS to retain their own creative, sexual, and political identities.’[5] Through her vivid evocation of the creation of Equipped, it is easy to see how valuable this ethos could be in other settings and crises. Indeed, Levine herself briefly brings up similarities between this practice and Haitian responses to AIDS,[6] but it might also be useful to think about prosthetic politics in responses to, for instance, those suffering from Long COVID.

 

However, Levine highlights how, despite these positive aspects, ACT UP was still a predominantly white and male movement, and so those who did not fit that demographic often felt side-lined or as if they had to work harder to make their voices heard. She points out how the frames of the photos in Equipped made of ‘wood sprayed to a high-gloss finish with Crayola “flesh”-colored paint to simulate plastic prosthetic material’, show how this work was an extension of Ray’s previous collaborations with Catherine Gund. Through that work, ‘as a lesbian and a gay Chicano male, they highlighted the price minority subjects pay by joining a predominantly white gay male movement.’ Levine points out how through using ‘pinkish-coloured’ medium for the frames, ‘Ray’s metonym for his brown body is both circumscribed and supported by this artificial white flesh.’

 

These insights are an important look at the intersections between healthcare, disability, race, and queerness – not only during global health crises, but in daily life – and that is extremely important, because the truth is that all people will become ill at some point in their life, and many will experience some form of disability. Time and again, queer communities have shown how to meet the specific needs of individuals and groups dealing with illness and disability, and I think that this exhibition catalogue provides a compelling example. I think it would be wonderful if, as the curators wished this, book could be ‘a vehicle for […] knowledge, elation and rage.’[7]

 

But, of course, this is only one of the LGBTQ+ history-related items available in the Art Library and Bodleian Libraries’ collections. For a place to start, I recommend checking out LGBTQ+ History Month blog posts from previous years.

Ashley Parry, Library Assistant
Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library, Bodleian Libraries

[1] D. S. Berger and J. Neff. Militant Eroticism : The Art+Positive Archives, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017, p. 10.

[2] G. Coi and A. Hernández-Morales. Disability rights activists fight for access to cities’ Pride events – POLITICO. POLITICO. 22-06-16. https://www.politico.eu/article/disability-rights-activist-lgbtq-pride-parade-events-accessibility-cities-epoa/ (Accessed 2009-08-24).

[3] Gwenyth Withers. Why are there so few accessible LGBTQ+ venues. Leonard Cheshire. 22-01-13. https://www.leonardcheshire.org/our-impact/stories/why-are-there-so-few-accessible-lgbtq-venues (Accessed 2009-08-24).

[4] Alaina Leary. If Your LGBTQIA+ Pride Event Isn’t Accessible to Disabled People, You’re Missing Out.. Rooted in Rights. 18-06-19. https://rootedinrights.org/if-your-lgbtqia-pride-event-isnt-accessible-to-disabled-people-youre-missing-out/ (Accessed 2009-08-24).

[5] Debra Levine, Another Kind of Love: A Performance of Prosthetic Politics, in Militant Eroticism : The Art+Positive Archives, 42. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017, p. 42

[6] Ibid. p.47

[7] Ibid. p.10

Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part IV

The Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library’s Haverfield Archive is perhaps best described as an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia. From coloured prints to illustrations of mosaic pavements, site plans and publications the archive has the potential to serve as a great source of information for researchers working on Roman Britain. In the final post of this series (posts I, II and III were published in 2020), I want to concentrate on why there is an archive in the first place. I believe that this is an important question we should be asking when considering all of these collected documents. When I first viewed the archive in 2019, it was unclear why the notable archaeologist and ancient historian Francis G. Haverfield (1860-1919) had decided to collect images of Roman floor mosaics as well as of related art works and other archaeological discoveries, assembling them within a very particular framework: Sometimes the images are organised according to chronology or geographic location, but also quite frequently their design or iconography is what makes them part of a specific group. The motivation behind the archive appeared to have been lost from social memory and the key players behind it are no longer here to give their reasons. Therefore, our only option is to piece together what clues have been left behind. Haverfield himself also left a text-based archive but this has never been catalogued and there is no finding aid to it; in any event, the Covid lockdown prevented prolonged access during my 12-month graduate library traineeship (September 2019-August 2020), the period when I was examining the collection. Working on archaeological sites, the only clues we have of people from the past are the objects that they have thrown away or accidentally lost. Since there may have been a reason why documents were grouped together in specific ways, I made sure that the Haverfield floor mosaic images were identified as belonging to the same assemblages in which I found them.

Throughout his life, Haverfield remained convinced that archaeology needed better funding. As mentioned in the first post, in his will he left his papers and books to the University of Oxford. After his death in 1919, Haverfield also left a substantial bequest, for which the University appointed a group of academics to serve as administrators. This group would develop policies for the use of its funds, with the intention of enhancing the study of Roman Britain. This included contributing towards the expense of collecting and preparing materials for publication. These planned projects included A Corpus of Roman Bronzes in Britain and A Corpus of Roman Glass. The prints of Roman floor mosaics in the Haverfield Archive could have been materials gathered for a similar project. It is possible that a group of scholars gathered together prints for an eventual publication, but that the project failed to materialise. With early antiquarian discoveries of mosaics, nobody from the field had really decided to create a nationwide inventory of Roman mosaics in Britain. Haverfield and his associates may have intended to produce this collected inventory.

So-called ‘Lion mosaic’ found at Aldborough (Inventory n. 2.13)

Haverfield already had connections to the archaeological sites where some of the mosaics originated. For example, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society began another excavation on the Roman remains at Aldborough (for description see blog post II), reportedly under  Haverfield’s guidance.

It is possible that Haverfield was using his image collection, along with descriptions from previous sites, to inform his approach to the excavation at Aldborough. In archaeological reports, it is very typical for there to be a description of previous excavations at the same site. In fact, it could have been Haverfield’s intention to include illustrations of the mosaics previously found at Aldborough in a new publication in order to draw attention to Roman archaeology in Britain.

Further evidence of Haverfield’s intention to publish the documents in his visual archive is the presence of several prints of the same floor mosaic found at Stonesfield (see blog posts II and III). By 1713, two influential illustrations of the mosaic were widely available. One of these was the version produced by Thomas Hearne and Michael Burghers, which I discussed in the second blog post in this series. The other illustration was made by Edward Loving and was circulated more widely than Hearne and Burgher’s version. Similar to Hearne and Burgher’s version, Loving’s illustration was presented to the Royal Society in full colour. Loving proposed to the Society that the illustration should be engraved on copper plate. Presumably, the Society was won over by Loving’s persuasiveness and ordered a copy of the illustration to be framed. Reportedly, Hearne disliked Loving’s version of the mosaic as it allegedly had many inaccuracies.

 

Inventory n. 1.15

Loving’s version of the Stonesfield mosaic could well be Inventory n. 1.15, as there are handwritten notes on both sides of the print. These pencilled notes include ‘same in Piccino’, ‘For Venice’ and ‘Pitisco Lexicon antiq.’. As arbitrary as these notes seem, they do make sense when context is provided since Loving’s version was republished in later international editions. It was first included as a frontispiece in Samuel Pitiscus’ Lexicon Antiquitatum (Leeuwarden, 1713) and a smaller version of the illustration was made by Suor Piccino in Venice, 1719. Suor Piccino’s version was then copied for a compilation of antiquities by the French antiquary Benard de Montfaucon (1655-1741) for his Antiquity Explain’d (Paris, 1719). This version may be present in the archive since Inventory n. 2.2A also has handwritten notes including ‘From Montfaucon’. The print itself is very similar to Inventory n. 1.15. The evidence of the multiple print versions of the Stonesfield mosaic and how several prints were even annotated indicates that a plan was in place to compare all of these versions. Thus, it is very possible that this material was intended to form a section of work in an eventual publication.

A further indication that materials in this archive were intended to be published, is the way in which Haverfield grouped and presented the images. There are various examples in the archive of mosaic prints being combined onto one large cardboard sheet. Inventory n. 1.6 B is of interest as at the top of one such cardboard sheet where ‘Northamptonshire’ has been pencilled in. It is these examples of assembled images which make the archive unique, as the documents are more than just a collection of images taken from different publications. Similarly, Inventory n. 1.14 also has ‘Northamptonshire 1’ pencilled in the same handwriting. This may reveal some of Haverfield’s approaches to these illustrations. Haverfield may have decided to paste certain prints of mosaics onto the same sheet if they all came from the same county. Indeed, the mosaics featured in Inventory n. 1.6B and 1.14 all came from places in Northamptonshire. The layout of the document may indicate how Haverfield wanted the prints to be arranged for the plates of a future publication.

There are some further instances, where the illustrations have been pasted on both sides of a cardboard sheet. For example, Inventory n. 1.5 has one side featuring the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic from Littlecote Park (see post iii) and the other side is of a mosaic found in Rudge.

‘Orpheus’ mosaic discovered at Littlecote Park (Inventory n. 1.5A)

 

Both mosaics were discovered in Wiltshire, further showing how Haverfield continued to collate images in groups of different counties. Inventory n. 1.10 has two sides of beautifully coloured mosaic prints from Castor with ‘Northamptonshire 4’ and ‘Northamptonshire 5’ pencilled on each side. This also illustrates how important the Haverfield Archive is, as we can use it to follow the thought process behind Haverfield’s choices for publication.

 

 

There are several exceptions to the geographical approach, suggesting that the way in which Haverfield collated his images was at times completely different. On one side of Inventory n. 1.17 is a print featuring a series of Roman coins at the top, with an image of a mosaic below. It is unclear where exactly the mosaic and the coins are from. The print does provide a clue, with the Earl of Harborough attributed as the patron, as Harborough is a district located within Leicestershire. The print on the reverse shows fragments of painted wall plaster from Aldborough whose design resembles that of floor mosaic patterns. From the description, they appear to be an illustrated plate taken from Henry Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae.

 

 

A contradictory example is Inventory n. 2.2. One side features Edward Loving’s version of the Stonesfield mosaic and the other features a small print of a mosaic from Carthage. Aside from some similarities in iconography, these prints appear to have little to no connection to each other. These are certainly not anomalies. In Folder 3, the first two sheets I indexed comprised both sides having prints pasted on them which also appeared to be unrelated, chronologically or geographically, to each other. It is possible that there were reasons behind each decision to attach a print on the reverse of another one, but such motivations are now lost (or require more in-depth study).

Finally, I wanted to discuss how Haverfield’s theory of Romanization applies to the archive. I introduced the concept of Romanization in the first post of this series. Haverfield sought to elucidate the incorporation of Britain into the Roman Empire, which he viewed as a cultural assimilation rather than enforced acceptance. Haverfield was the first British academic to systematically consider the cultural consequences of the 43 C.E. Roman invasion through archaeological evidence. For Haverfield, this evidence suggested that Britain fully participated in Roman culture. His theory challenged previous views — which reflected British early 20th century colonial values — that it was through invasion and colonisation that Britons became more ‘civilised’ and ‘Romanized’. For Haverfield, therefore, the term ‘Romanization’, therefore, indicated a more ongoing and active process. To him, Roman Britain was not a stage of British history, but rather one of several cumulative parts of the Roman Empire. It is no wonder that he may have developed an interest in Roman floor mosaics, especially if they mirrored similar designs in Imperial Rome.

 

 

Haverfield once told an audience ‘It is no use to know about Roman Britain in particular unless you know about the Roman Empire in general’. Roman Britain was not a stand-alone entity but was rather one part of an all-encompassing, global Empire. In order to fully understand Roman Britain, one has also to study Imperial Rome. It is difficult to say whether Haverfield himself was affected by the superior philosophy developed by many affluent gentlemen during the peak of the British Empire. In the third post of this series I discussed how the antiquarians who created illustrations of mosaics which partly constitute the Haverfield Archive may have perceived floor mosaic remains as a tangible link between the British and the Roman Empires. Whilst historians should always seek to remain neutral when exploring the past, it is often impossible to not be influenced by the period of history one is living in.

Haverfield was once quoted as saying that with the Roman Empire:

‘‘Its imperial system, alike in its differences and similarities, lights up our own Empire, for example India, at every turn. The methods by which Rome incorporated and denationalised and assimilated more than half of its wide dominions, and the success of Rome, unintended but perhaps complete, in spreading its Graeco-Roman culture over more than a third of Europe and a part of Africa, concern in many ways our own aged Empire” (Journal of Roman studies, vol I, pg xviii-xix, quoted from Craster, 1920: 70).

To an extent, therefore, Haverfield was making direct comparisons between the Roman and British Empires. Like his contemporaries, Haverfield’s thinking may have been somewhat influenced by colonial attitudes. British imperial expansion combined with an education which sought to celebrate the accomplishments of classical civilisation may have informed his world view. Despite this, it is unclear in the above quote whether Haverfield is explicitly glorifying the British Empire or, rather, condemning it.

The ultimate purpose of Haverfield’s visual archive is not completely clear. Although evidence points towards how Haverfield may have gathered illustrations of archaeological discoveries for a planned publication, it is never explicitly stated that this was his intention. Throughout the process of indexing a small part of this visual archive I felt as if I was following a trail of bread crumbs. Each handwritten note, each new copy of the same print was another crumb of evidence. However, Haverfield’s decision to give his papers, books, and some of his wealth to the University of Oxford in order to enhance the study of archaeology is a clear intention. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Haverfield was convinced that the discipline of archaeology needed better funding and research. It would not be surprising if he had wanted his life’s mission to continue long after his death. By passing on his knowledge and funds, he would guarantee the continuation of the study of the archaeology of Roman Britain. I hope that now the archive has been advertised  through a digital medium, there will be a renewed interest in its contents for future research projects.

This is the final blog post in this series. I would like to thank the Sackler’s Librarian-in-Charge, Clare Hills-Nova, for inviting me to work on this project and providing support and advice throughout. I would also like to thank the Classics and Classical Archaeology Librarian, Charlotte Goodall, for her advice and guidance. Finally, a special thanks to Samuel Bolsover who proof-read all of my work.

Chloe Bolsover
Graduate Library Trainee (2019-2020)
Taylor Institution Library

Learning and  Teaching Librarian
Sheffield Hallam University

References

18th September 1903. Yorkshire Archaeological Society. British Architect. 216-217

Craster, HHE. 1920. Francis Haverfield. The English Historical Review, 63-70

Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000. From Stone to Textile: The Bacchus Mosaic at Stonesfield, Oxon, and the Stonesfield Embroidery. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 153:1, 1-29.

Freeman, PWM. 2007. The Best Training-Ground for Archaeologists. Oxford: Oxbow Books

Hingley, Richard. The recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: a colony so fertile. 2008. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Levine, J. 1978. The Stonesfield Pavement: Archaeology in Augustan England. Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol 11, No. 3. 340-361

Todd, M. 2003. The Haverfield Bequest, 1921-2000 and the Study of Roman Britain. Britannia, Vol 34, 35-40

Art, Archaeology, and Ancient World 101: Supporting Classics in Oxford

Tempora mutantur: Two Decades as a Classics Librarian
By Charlotte Goodall

 

Acknowledgement: Reproduced by kind permission of the author; and of the editor of Antigone: An Open Forum for Classics

 

 

September next year will mark my twentieth anniversary as Classics Librarian for the Bodleian Library [and the Sackler Library] in the University of Oxford. My time overseeing the Classics collection at Oxford has coincided with a period of great change, both in librarianship and in the way scholarship in Classics is carried out.

I came into the job in the early days of electronic resources, when very few journals were available online, and the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae was still only available on CD-ROM, loaded onto specific computers and with a simple text based search interface. In the Bodleian, we operated a book-ordering system unchanged since the 1930s, consisting of hand-written slips, filled out in triplicate, inserted into zinc cases and sent down pneumatic tubes from the reading room to the bookstack. The concept of ordering books online via the library catalogue, accessible through the internet, was still very new.

Tunnel under Broad Street.

The book tunnel connecting the Bodleian beneath Broad Street.

In Classics, we were quite advanced for a humanities subject already, as we had the TLG as well as the Packard Humanities Index CDs. These would allow basic searching of Classical Greek and Latin texts and some epigraphical works. By today’s standards, it was clunky, but at the time these resources were starting to revolutionise the way the subject was being approached, and to challenge the way Classics was served by the libraries and librarians who were the concierges of this new information landscape.

I arrived in Oxford as a graduate student in 1999, having completed my B.A. in Classics at University College Dublin. For me, Oxford was a jarring experience. Dublin had been a fabulous city to be a student; bustling, exciting, with a cosmopolitan nightlife and a feeling of modernity and fun. Oxford, on the other hand, felt provincial, dark and quiet. Everything shut at 6pm (apart from one shop at the top of Headington High Street that was open 24 hrs: students would take taxis there and back to buy cigarettes and cheap bottles of wine). Even the streetlamps were less bright. College dinners (formal hall every night, gowns required) were fun at first but the quality of the food was sometimes astonishingly awful (mutton stew, overboiled carrots, not enough potatoes to go around).

Radcliffe Camera at night.

Oxford’s Radcliffe Camera of an evening.

Academically, I was extremely fortunate to have been taught by some of the finest Classical scholars of our time. I had papyrology classes from Peter Parsons; I got sent to a terrifying meeting with the philosopher Myles Burnyeat at All Souls (he was surprisingly kind). I went to Nigel Wilson’s palaeography seminars, and listened to Martin West’s lectures on Greek Metre. I spent most of my time in the libraries. The Bodleian Lower Reading Room had only one row of desks that were wired with sockets for laptops, and I would be waiting for the doors to open every morning to secure one of these precious spaces.

There was also the library of the Ashmolean Museum (the predecessor of the Sackler Library) which was located at the back of the museum, accessed through a door at the end of the Cast Gallery. The Ashmolean Library was tiny, with a precarious spiral staircase of filigree cast-iron that would take you up to the mezzanine floor (a warning to female readers not to wear skirts was part of the induction process!). There were anglepoise lamps on the desks, and a sense that this was where “serious scholarship” was taking place.

It had now become clear that this “serious scholarship” was probably not for me. I enjoyed my time as a graduate student, but realised that I didn’t want to be an academic. There were other things in my life that brought me joy, and I didn’t want to be tied to a lifestyle that demanded so much of me. So I got a part-time job with Oxfam as an archival assistant, which taught me some of the basics of information management, and helped me recognise that I wanted to work in an area that used my education. As someone who studied exclusively in these libraries as a student, I knew their collections intimately. I was also curious about how libraries were organised and managed. Timing worked in my favour, and when I was finally in a position to apply, the job of Classics Librarian happened to become vacant.

Entrance to Sackler Library.

The Art, Archaeology, and Ancient World Library, Oxford.

My predecessor had been an old-fashioned Librarian, who ruled over the Bodleian Lower Reading Room with a stern eye and hand-catalogued every book on the shelves. My role was expanded to encompass the newly-opened Sackler Library, and I was to oversee the provision for Classics across two sites. The Sackler had absorbed the collections of the old Ashmolean Library, as well as the Art History, Archaeology, and Ancient Near East collections, and had also taken in the Classics Lending Library for undergraduates.

The building was a new-build neo-Classical rotunda, tucked in behind the museum; it had been designed as a traditional library, though at a time when libraries were changing quickly. It housed the lending collection for Classics, and would in time become one of the preeminent collections in the world for Classical Studies, Egyptology and Ancient Near East, Art History, and Classical Archaeology. For the first time in Oxford, Classics had a budget and an individual (me) whose job it was to oversee the purchase of material published across the world, in multiple languages, covering the entire scope of Classical studies. I was also trained in the traditions of cataloguing, and the archaic workings of the Bodleian, with its confusing collection of classification schemes and complicated procedures.

At the same time, the relatively novel concept of electronic provision was gaining momentum. Journals, especially from English speaking countries, were increasingly published online, although the subscriptions were often complex and expensive. Online publishing was in its infancy and publishers were struggling with figuring out how to adapt to the evolving requirements of their customers.

Shelving in CSF.

Some of the fifteen miles of shelves at the Bodleian Libraries’ Book Store, Swindon.

Increasingly, as we moved through the mid and late 2000s, libraries were at the forefront of pushing innovation and facilitating new approaches to scholarship. The TLG went fully online in 2008, rendering the CD-ROMs obsolete, and Brepols’ Library of Latin Texts had an online searchable interface for Latin that was superior to the old Packard Humanities Institute disks[1]. Perseus, which had existed since the 1980s, was showing how open-source, web-based resources could be developed, giving access to searchable lexica for the first time.[2] Big publishers such as Brill started to digitise some of their large works of scholarship (such as the Jacoby, the essential collection of fragmentary Greek historians which we first purchased online in 2007).[3] Digitisation became the buzzword of the time.

In the libraries, we had to help our readers and scholars access these new resources, and figure out how to host and service them. Google partnered with the Bodleian, creating digital scans of the Bodleian’s 19th century collections in 2009. This project was overly ambitious for the time, as the technology was not quite ready for it, and the scans were often of poor quality; also, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which automatically converts printed type into a digital document, was not available at the time. However, there was a clear appetite for digital texts, and the technology was catching up with the requirements of readers.

Sophocles title page.Title-page of Elmsley’s edition of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus (Oxford, 1811), one of nearly a million 19th-century books scanned from the Bodleian Library for the Google Books project.

In Oxford, as the 2010s came around, issues of space and conservation were impossible to ignore. The opening of the Gladstone Link, which used the refurbished area of the old bookstack under the Radcliffe Camera and the tunnel that attached this to the Old Library, was the first big physical change to the fabric of the buildings since the 1930s.

It had become clear that instead of the old bookstack, a modern “book storage facility” was needed, and it proved impossible to build such a facility in Oxford. It ended up being constructed in Swindon, 30 miles away. The facility provides a modern, climate-controlled environment where the majority of our books are stored, to be fetched when required by readers. The old bookstack and the 1930s “New Bodleian” were refurbished as the beautiful Weston Library, which opened in 2015.

New Library on Broad Street.Refurbished Weston Library.

The Bodleian’s Weston Library (below), the recent refurbishment of the New Bodleian (pictured above in 2009).

It was always difficult to balance the different media of publication with the needs of our different readers. While so much was becoming available online, it was clear that in certain circumstances, reading print would always be preferred. However, it took the COVID-19 pandemic to fully break down some of the barriers and preconceptions around using electronic publications. As a library service, we had to pivot quickly to provide fully remote services, and we were able to introduce scanning on demand, and a hugely expanded library of electronic texts. Now our library buildings are as busy as ever, but our electronic provision continues to expand: we are, for instance, the largest user of the TLG in the world.

Open Access is our newest challenge. The academic publishing world has changed hugely in the last few years, and open-access journal publishing is now a requirement for all funding bodies in the UK and for the REF.[4] Open Access monograph publishing will be a requirement in the future. The cost of academic journal publishing and access has been outsourced to the libraries, and it is a challenge to manage this in a fair and understandable way. Classics still follows a relatively traditional publication model, but Open Access is here to stay, and deals between libraries and publishers increasingly dictate what journals are accessible to researchers.

Venn Diagram of Open Access standards.

A Venn diagram of “Open Access colours”.

As librarians we are required to understand often confusing, fast-changing rules and concepts, and to be able to communicate them to our readers. As libraries, we have been paying huge amounts of money to facilitate access to journals, for which our own academics often acted as editors. The future of library provision will involve negotiating and understanding the quickly evolving world of Open Access publishing, and helping our academics do the same.

Trends in scholarship come and go, and the books that are published every year reflect this. Each week, we librarians receive a spreadsheet of every academic book received by the Bodleian. I scan the lists, picking out the Classics books and deciding where they should go. It gives me a perspective on how some of these titles could have been published at any time in the past century – but the scholarship and technology used to produce them have changed beyond recognition. As libraries, we house and preserve the physical or digital books and retain their contents for posterity, but we also facilitate the infrastructure that allows the scholarship that produces these books to take place.

Duke Humfrey's Library interior. Arts End.

Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room in the Bodleian. Humphrey of Lancaster (1390–1447), 1st Duke of Gloucester (and youngest son of Henry IV), bequeathed 281 manuscripts to the university.

I was given the responsibility of looking after the archive of the Sackler Library, which holds the papers of a number of prominent Classicists and Archaeologists from the twentieth century. Part of my work involves making these papers available to scholars who are interested in the history of Classical scholarship, and the history of excavation and the study of Roman Britain. It always strikes me that the generation of scholars who left behind these detailed written remains will, in some ways, be the last: so much of today’s ephemera is created digitally, and it is very unclear how such material will be preserved for posterity. A notebook or a photograph from 1923 is far more accessible and more easily conserved than, for example, something saved on a 3.5-inch diskette in 2003. This will also change the way we understand the development of our subject in years to come.

The decisions we make as scholars and librarians affect the way our subject is studied in the future. The way we document these decisions will inform future scholars and librarians and their own perspectives and interests. This is one of the things that continue to intrigue and excite me about my role and about the future path of Classical scholarship.

Charlotte Goodall

Charlotte Goodall
Subject Librarian for Classics & Classical Archaeology
Bodleian Libraries

Notes

[1] The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) was founded in 1987, and provided searchable digital texts of Classical Latin authors and epigraphical texts. In the 1990s and 2000s, these were issued on CD-ROM and had to be loaded onto individual computers, although they later became networkable. The PHI still exists as a web-based searchable database

[2] The Perseus Digital Library (formally the Perseus Project) is an open-access, open-source collection of Classical texts, translations, and other resources freely available online.

[3] Brill‘s New Jacoby is a digital edition of Felix Jacoby’s Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker (Fragments of the Greek Historians) Parts1–3 (published 1923–94).

[4] The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an evaluation of British universities conducted by the national research funding bodies to assess the research carried out by these institutions and inform their future funding allocations.

Ukraine: One Year On (24/02/2023)

Renewing and Displaying our Ukrainian Collections

By Jamie Copeland

Ukrainian Artists book display, marking one year since the Russian invasion (24 January 2023) Photo credit Jamie Copeland

 

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (24 January 2022), the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library has maintained a book display celebrating Ukrainian culture and presenting a selection of the material held in our collections that can enrich awareness of Ukraine’s art, architecture, archaeology and history. It was also intended to refresh this display periodically, both to mark events such as Ukraine Independence Day and to guard against the impression that attention has moved on. The change of material is also an opportunity to address areas that may not have been as prominent in previous displays, while drawing on the expanding collection and resources available.

The first anniversary of the invasion was an obvious moment both to reflect upon the events of the past year and to address some of the issues that I have become aware of. One of the difficulties that I had encountered was in finding material featuring contemporary artists and their responses to the ‘special military operation’ and the preceding near-decade of Russian hostilities. Although many cultural institutions and journals have commemorated the war many of the articles and institutional resources remain online only. I was able, however, to find a physical issue of the journal Artforum that has a description of an artist’s experience of the onset of the war and images of their reaction to it.

 

 

The second issue that I wanted the display to address was a response to Putin’s speech denying Ukraine’s statehood, and his preceding essay “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians”, something I had considered during the display’s previous iteration but had learned more about over the last year. The publication ‘Postcolonial Europe?: essays on post-communist literatures and cultures’ was useful in this regard, especially the chapter titled ‘Ukrainian Culture after Communism’.

 

 

One of the major figures of Ukrainian nationhood is Mikhail Hrushevsky, historian and President of the Central Rada (Central Council of Ukraine) before its overthrow by German backed forces in April 1918. Hrushevsky continued his efforts to claim a historical legitimacy for Ukraine independent of Russia for the rest of his life, despite mounting repression. One of his more popular works was The Illustrated history of Ukraine, a single volume edition derived from his ten volume Survey of the History of the Ukrainian People, the first major work on Ukrainian history. The early 1913 version can be contrasted with the revised, post-independence 1997 edition.

 

Mikhail Grushevskīĭ . History of the Ukrainian People. 1913/1997

 

A complication in selecting publications for the display was the definition of a Ukrainian. From various perspectives (for example frequent border and regime shifting) the list could include people of Ukrainian heritage, such as Hrushevsky himself, who was born in Chełm, then part of Poland subject to Imperial Russia, to a family of the Ukrainian aristocracy. There are also artists such as Abraham Manievich, born in Belarus to a Jewish family, who studied in Kiev and was a co-founder of the Ukrainian Academy of Fine Arts. Although primarily resident in Kiev, he travelled throughout the Russian Empire and Europe before emigrating to the United States after the murder of his son in a pogrom during the Russian Civil War. A similar example is Sonia Delauney, also Jewish, born in Odessa, but who moved to St. Petersburg in her early childhood. She then moved to Paris at the age of fifteen. Would it be justifiable to include an important artist, the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition of her work at the Louvre (1964), just because her birthplace was in Ukraine although her education and career took place abroad? One of the quotes about her work addressed the subject of Ukraine as a formative influence upon her work.

“About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son, who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Ukrainian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings.” Sonia Delaunay.[12]

 

Sonia Delaunay. Compositions for a binding of ‘Der Sturm’.

 

The recent exhibition In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s (Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, 29/11/2022 – 30/04/2023) displayed works from their the museum’s collection in conjunction with works from the national collections of Ukraine; this was a response to the Museums for Ukraine initiative, providing a cultural protest to both the invasion and Russia’s denial of a separate Ukraine culture. In the accompanying publication Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza addresses this subject, stating that the war is ‘not only about controlling territory, but also about owning the narrative’. In the introduction, the curator and art historian Konstantin Akinsha traces the history of modern Ukraine from the culturally tolerant early years of the Bolsheviks, through the terror of the Stalinist years, the relative calm of Khrushchev and the re-emergence of Ukraine as a nation state. In parallel with this political history runs a cultural history with the idealism of Ukrainian modernism experiencing both genocidal suppression and Russian appropriation as the Western art markets made modernism useful to the USSR, then the post-Soviet attempt to rediscover and exhibit the ‘Ukrainian Avant-Garde’. The lives of various artists, as they experienced fates ranging from execution, imprisonment, exile to suppression,were restricted as they saw their works confined to the ‘Spetsfond’ a sealed archive for works produced by ‘formalists’, ‘nationalists’ and other ‘criminals’. In the Eye of the Storm is broadly divided into parts, with the first three – on Kyiv, Karkhiv, and Odesa – following the various regions and associated schools with distinctive but connected experiences as they attempted to preserve the expression of their selves in the face of an overwhelming hegemonic power. The fourth part, ‘Aftermath’, follows the lives of the surviving artists. An essay, ‘From Oblivion to Glory’, discusses the Spetsfond and its function as an inadvertent resource for the subsequent study of Ukrainian art; with works held by the State Ukrainian Museum then divided among five categories, determining (for example) whether they could be exhibited, used for scientific work or transferred. The final paragraph of the book notes:

‘Almost all works from the spetsfond were allocated to the fifth group, the so-called zero category, with the majority being taken out of their frames and rolled up. As luck would have it, this eventually saved them from destruction. Because the zero category did not belong to the Museum’s primary collection it never featured in official reports and was not subject to further checks. All works from this group, therefore, remained intact in the Museum’s vaults to be discovered by future generations of curators and art historians.’

 

Vladimir Kruglov. Zinaida Serebryakova (2004) Book cover.
Zinaida Serebryakova. On the Terrace in Kharkov. 1919. Novosibirsk State Art Museum, Novosibirsk

With this in mind I wanted to display the work of artists not restricted by artistic schools or questions of identity, but to focus on their response to Ukraine as a nation. Zinaida Serebryakova, was born in Kharkiv in 1884, her family prominent in the artistic establishment of the Russian Empire. She spent much of her life in exile, often in near poverty after the death of her husband and her reluctance to conform to depicting the preferred subjects of the Soviet establishment, preferring instead to paint landscapes, scenes of rural life and domestic portraits, often of her children. Unable to afford the materials for her preferred technique of oil painting she then worked with cheaper materials such as pencil and charcoal, learning to sketch rapidly. In 1924 she was given a commission for a mural in Paris, leaving her four children under the care of her mother. On completion of this work she was unable to return to the Soviet Union and was separated from her family, although she retained her Soviet citizenship until the Nazi occupation forced her to abandon it in order to gain a Nansen passport. In 1947 she was granted French citizenship and was able to bring two of her children to Paris but was unable to meet the rest of her family until the so-called Khrushchev Thaw. In 1960 she was reunited with her daughter, now an artist at the Moscow Art Theatre. Her daughter was able to help arrange a series of major exhibitions in Moscow, Leningrad and Kyiv, which took place in 1966. The success of these established Serebryakova’s reputation in her homeland after half a life in exile. She died in 1968.

I chose to show, as openings in the book display, several paintings from Serebryakova’s earlier work. On the Terrace in Kharkov (1919) shows a peaceful family scene, with the strong use of blue and yellow, emphasizing the theme of Ukraine. The below landscapes of Ukrainian countryside, with sunflowers, rolling plains, and Crimean hills offering a counterpoint to the images of devastation we have seen since the invasion.

 

 

Contrasting with with Serebryakova’s peaceful landscapes, the paintings of David Burliuk have the unstable energy typical of Futurism. Born in Riabushky, part of the Kharkov Governorate, Burliuk’s family was a mixture of Ukrainian Cossacks with a Belarussian mother. His portrait of fellow futurist Vasily Kamensky draws on the Byzantine tradition of icon painting normally used to depict the divine serenity of saints, an effect undermined by the clash of colours and almost vibrating shapes. The painting Dnieper Rapids is barely recognisable as a landscape, the land and sky merging into broken reds. Burliuk’s early life was a flurry of travel through Russia and Europe and a string of movements and manifestos. After the end of the Bolsheviks’ initial tolerance for dissent by prominent figures on the left he was forced to flee via Japan, eventually settling on Long Island, New York.  Despite persistent campaigning he was refused permission to revisit the USSR until the Khrushchev years.

The revival of interest in Soviet avant-garde movements following the Khrushchev Thaw notwithstanding, the art markets of the West had only an outside view of the influences prevalent in their creation. In his above-mentioned essay, Konstantin Akinsha quotes Oleh Ilnytzkyz, an early proponent of Ukranian Futurism: “The goal is not to place a new ‘Ukrainian’ straitjacket on cultural activities in the empire, but to find a way to do justice to the variety of sources and the myriad of cultural influences that flowed from so many directions. The recognition of Burliuk, [Aleksandra] Ekster and [Kazimir] Malevich as Ukrainians does not diminish their relevance for either the imperial (transnational) avant-garde or for strictly Russian culture, where their impact is undeniable.”

 

 

In a similar attempt to recognise cultural specificity, the National Gallery recently renamed its Degas pastel drawing formally known as Russian Dancers to Ukrainian Dancers.

A brief section titled ‘Note on Transliteration’ (p. 8) in the publication In the eye of the storm: modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s (2022) – often used as a resource for this display – discusses one of the issues encountered when discussing Ukraine and its culture. While recognizing the complex identities of artists from this period and area, the project shows that the individuals discussed belong to the narrative of Ukrainian art history. The editors have therefore favoured the transliteration of Ukrainian versions of artists names, except for emigrés with previously well-established reputations in the West. While using various sources to research this book display I found the question of whether to use the Russian or Ukrainian versions of names and places increasingly problematic. Although current resources tend to use Ukrainian names, many/most printed materials, especially those published before the break-up of the USSR, use Russian versions. Many artists themselves may have used Russian versions, including in place names and titles of their works. Unwilling to impose a choice I largely stayed with the version used in the source material I was discussing. The modern history of Ukraine and its relationship with Russia has itself led to several linguistic variations. In contrast with Imperial Russia’ imposition of ‘Russification’ on its provinces, Lenin supported korenizatsiia (nativization), a policy encouraging indigenous cultures and languages as a means of increasing support for the Bolsheviks beyond Russia itself. This policy was abruptly brought to an end by Stalin, whose purges destroyed symbols of Ukrainian culture such as the Kobzars (travelling singers) and had so effective an impact on Ukrainian artists that they became known as the “The Executed Renaissance”.

Alexander Osmekin, Profile and Flowers (1946)

Although later policies were less harsh, the Soviet regime still used imprisonment and censorship as tools to suppress potential dissent. Under these conditions conformity to approved approaches such as ‘Socialist Realism’ became a necessity for many artists, with even coded references such as colour or national symbols risking censure.

 

Mykhailo Boychuk. Portrait of a Woman. 1909. Lviv National Art Gallery

Like Burliuk, several other artists’ work was influenced by Byzantine icon painting and nativist art. An example is the poignant,  folk art-inspired Portrait of a Woman by Mykhailo Boychuk who, in 1936, along with two of his students and four months later his wife, was executed by the NKVD.  Boychuk’s work, described by his killers as ‘bourgeois nationalism’ and largely destroyed, was an influence on the later artist and regime opponent Alla Horska, who was herself killed by the KGB in 1970. Much of the work of both of these artists, often in the form of murals, mosaics and other large public works drawing upon Byzantine sources, was destroyed by the Soviet authorities, with some of the work only surviving in preliminary sketches or photographs. Others were preserved by fellow artists and archivists, such as Yaroslava Muzyka, who kept most of the paintings Boychuk left in Lviv after he was forced to abandon them.

 

Alla Horska. Sketch for a mosaique. 1960(?)

In my attempt to select publications and show artists’ works for the display, and also learn of the fates – exile, appropriation, suppression or attempts to erase from history – of the works and their creators it became impossible not to admire the resilience of people currently struggling to preserve themselves as a nation, however varied. One of the claims put out by the Kremlin, was that Russia and Ukraine are one people separated by a Western coup, thus justifying a ‘special military operation’ to reunite them. Author Andrey Kurkov’s Ukraine diaries, detailing his experiences in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv, as he and others struggled to resist the 2014 attempt to permanently bind Ukraine to Russian vassalage, was also an inspiration for the display. The PEN Ukraine book Treasures of Ukraine, for which Kurkov wrote the foreword, was similarly invaluable in providing a cultural history and a guide to more contemporary work.

The following gallery and list of publications on display can show only a small section of the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library’s collection of material celebrating Ukraine.

Gallery

 

 

Publications on display

Aĭvazovskiĭ, Ivan Konstantinovich. 2011. Aiwasowski : Maler des Meeres / herausgeg Ostfildern : Hatje Cantz

Akinsha, Konstantin. Denysova, Katia. Kashuba-Volvach, Olena. 2022. In the eye of the storm : modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s. London : Thames and Hudson

Balashova, Olha [editor-in-chief]. 2021. The art of Ukrainian sixties. Kyiv : Osnovy Publishing

Delaunay, Sonia, 2014, Sonia Delaunay. London

Grushevskiĭ, Mikhai. 1913. Illi͡ustrirovannai͡a istorīi͡a ukrainskago naroda. vyp. 1.  S.-Peterburg : Tip. T-va “Ekateringofsk. Pechatnoe Di͡elo

Grushevskiĭ, Mikhail. 1997 Illi͡ustrirovannai͡a istorii͡a Ukrainy. Kiev : MPP “Levada

Hnatenko, Stefania. 1989. Treasures of early Ukrainian art : religious art of the 16th- 18th centuries New York : Ukrainian Museum

Kadan, Nikita, 2022. Project

Artforum international. v.60: no.8(2022: Apr.)

Kruglov, Vladimir, 2004. Zinaida Evgenʹevna Serebri͡akova = Zinaida Serebryakova

St. Petersburg

Kurkov, Andrey. 2014. Ukrainian diaries: dispatches from Kiev. London : Harvill Secker

Marko, Olya [Editor] 1991.  Spirit of Ukraine : 500 years of painting : selections from the State Museum of Ukrainian Art, Kiev : an exhibition organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery in honour of the centenary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. Winnipeg : Winnipeg Art Gallery

Monti, Matteo de. 2011. Colour moves : art and fashion by Sonia Delaunay London : Thames & Hudson

Morozov, A. I. (Aleksandr Ilʹich), 2007 Sot͡srealizm i realism Moskva : Galart

Mudrak, Myroslava M. “The Painted Surface in the Ukrainian Avant-garde: from Facture to Construction.”

Pantheon 45 (1987): 138–43. [München] : [Bruckmann]

Pensler, Alan. 2001. Abraham Manievich, Manchester : Yivo Institute for Jewish Research : Hudson Hills Press

Petrova, Yevgenia. [editor-in chief], 2001.  Abstraction in Russia, XX century

St. Petersburg,

Russian futurism : and David Burliuk, “The father of Russian Futurism”

Petrova, Yevgenia [editor-in-chief] 2008.  XX century in the Russian Museum: painting, sculpture 1900-2000 Sankt-Peterburg : Palace Editions, 2008.

Pucherová, Dobrota [editor-in-chief]. 2015. Postcolonial Europe? : essays on post-communist literatures and cultures  Part V: Between the East and the West: the colonial present — Ukrainian culture after communism: between post-colonial liberation and neo-colonial subjugation. Riabchuk, Mykola. Leiden : Brill Rodopi

Shulʹkevich, M. M. 1982. Kiev : arkhitekturno-istoricheskiĭ ocherk. Kiev : “Budivelʹnyk”

Teboul, David. 2011. I’ve been here once before. Boris Mikhailov interviewed by David Teboul. München : Hirmer

Surudz͡hiĭ, N.M. 2016. Pysanky nashykh babusʹ : zibranni͡a pysanok I͡Urii͡a Ferenchuka = Our grandmothers pysankas : pisankas collection of Yuiy Ferenchuk / avtor proektu ta upori͡adnyk. Chernivt͡si : Misto

Ukrains’kiĭ modernizm 1910-1930 = Ukrainian modernism. 2006, Kyiv : National Art Museum of Ukraine

Versari, Maria Elena (Curator), 2022 Archipenko and the Italian avant garde London : Estorick Foundation

 

Like @ SAC! Trans Day of Visibility 2023

From
LGBT+ History Month (February 2023)

To
International Transgender Day of Visibility

31 March 2023

 

Happy Trans Day of Visibility 2023! For this 31 March, our LGBT+ History Month book display has been rearranged to cast a spotlight on the trans artists included there. As part of this change, I have also added Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT Press, 2017), which features many and varied trans artists and theorists presenting interesting and nuanced arguments about the meanings and consequences of visible transness. This book is currently on display open to a page featuring artist, activist, and trans man, Reed Erickson. I thought the title for his self-portrait particularly appropriate for Trans Day of Visibility: I am fire, I am Wind, I AM BEING All that YOU IS SEEING.

I have also opened the volume Queer!? (Zwolle, 2019) to a page about the trans masculine Russian-Hungarian performance artist and painter, El Kazovsky; and, from Jonathan Weisberg’s Art after Stonewall: 1969-1989 (2019), I have centred an image of Marsha P. Johnson alongside a conversation about her between filmmaker, Sasha Wortzel and writer and trans activist, Tourmaline. While the relationship of drag performers like Marsha to transness is complicated – some identify as trans and some do not – their importance to trans movements cannot be denied, and their representation of fluid gender performance complements this theme.

Similarly, beginning in the 1970s, Nan Goldin, represented in this display through Nan Goldin, by Guido Costa (Phaidon, 2005), drew the attention of the art world to drag queens and transgender life. This book features on its cover her photograph Jimmy Paulette & Misty in a Taxi, NYC (1991) – just one of the many images she recorded of her drag queen friends.

Then, while explicit trans representation is extremely difficult to find in ancient history, I thought that the page entitled ‘A Gender Changing Goddess’ from Richard Parkinson’s A Little Gay History (2013) provides a concise introduction to ancient evidence for gender variance.

I hope that you too have enjoyed this brief look into trans representation in the collections at the Sackler Library!

Ashley Parry, Library Assistant
Sackler Library, Bodleian Libraries

Like @ SAC! LGBT+ History Month 2023

 

LGBT+ History Month 2023
‘Behind the Lens’ Book Display
by Ashley Parry

 

It’s February already! In the UK, this means that it’s LGBTQ+ History Month, which offers an occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people of all identities throughout the ages. At the Sackler Library, we are marking this month with a display to highlight LGBTQ+ related items in our collections. This year’s theme, Behind the Lens, marks LGBTQ+ people’s contribution to cinema and film not in front of the camera but behind it.

 

Sackler LGBTQ+ History Month Display

Behind the Lens book display, Sackler Library. Image Credit: Ashley Parry

Some of the publications included in the display: Berenice Abbott; Sunil Gupta’s Queer; Photography’s Orientalism; Robert Mapplethorpe; Outlaw Representation; Blatant Image, in Art After Stonewall. Image Credit: Ashley Parry

 

 

Through my research, I was drawn to the work of the trans artist, Wu Tsang, who uses dance and film to explore the theme of perspective in her work.Then, while Andy Warhol looms large over the history of queer art, this month has enabled me to highlight his films specifically. In fact, both Wu Tsang and Andy Warhol illustrate one of the key themes of this display – that LGBTQ+ artist-filmmakers not only question the boundaries between sexualities and genders, but also the boundaries between different forms of artistic expression.

Another artist whose work illustrates this is Derek Jarman (1942-1994), represented in the display by Derek Jarman: Brutal Beauty and also included in Caravaggio in Film and Literature: Popular Culture’s Appropriation of a Baroque Genius. Jarman is best known for his films but has also been very influential in his installation work, and he applied his knowledge of art and art history to his films in their composition and subject matter.

 

Book covers for Wu Tsang, Andy Warhol, Derel Jarman, and Laura Rorato

 

The anthologies on show in the display also illustrate the permeability of genre boundaries, where the work of artists who use film installation is represented alongside that of poets, photographers and fine artists.

 

 

For example, Sex Ecologies includes a diverse range of contributions, from photography by filmmaker Pedro Neves Marques to Léuli Eshrāghi’s discussions of Sāmoan sexual and gender diversity. The volume AIDS Riot contains interviews with filmmaker and “TV-guerrilla” Gregg Bordowitz, who “conceived of [‘video’] as the privileged instrument in the de-marginalization of PWAs [People With AIDS]”, alongside discussions of other installation, graphic design, and photographic work from artist collectives in the New York of the 1980s and 1990s. Similarly, in the book Outlaw Representation, Richard Meyer discusses the work of artist and filmmaker, David Wojnarowicz alongside other controversial figures such as photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The potential for crossover between photography and film gave me the opportunity to include Mapplethorpe’s photographs with those of with those of other queer artists such as Berenice Abbot, and Sunil Gupta. In fact, it is Abbott’s image that has been used for the poster of this display.

 

(A note about the poster for this book display: The image of Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), with camera almost the same height as photographer, is a good fit with this year’s ‘Behind the Lens’ theme. Also aligning itself with the theme, the Courier typeface is typically used for screenplays. As for the text’s colours, I chose Valentino Vecchietti’s tones in his 2021 intersex-inclusive redesign for the Progress Pride Flag at the top of the poster, and the colours of Gilbert Baker’s original 1978 rainbow flag design at the bottom of the poster. Using these colour ranges incorporates as many queer identities as possible without privileging any in particular, while also paying tribute to the past 45 years of queer art history.)

 

The book Sexuality & Space creates a bridge between the film and photography related books in this display and other fascinating titles on queer theory and architectural criticism, such as Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity, and Queer Space: Architecture and Same-sex Desire. Another related publication, available as an ebook, that is well worth a look is Preservation and Place: Historic Preservation by and of LGBTQ Communities in the United States .

 

The display’s architecture section, including Sexuality & Space; Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity; Bachelors of a Different Sort; and Queer Space: Architecture and Same-Sex Desire. Image Credit: Ashley Parry.

 

Photo of cover of 'Sappho Is Burning' by Page duBois.

 

Although this year’s theme meant that most materials skewed towards the modern, it would be a disservice to the Sackler’s collections and the true diversity of historical experience to concentrate only on this era. For example, no overview of LGBTQ+ history would be complete without the Classical Greek poet Sappho, whose evocations of same-sex desire in her poetry led to the adjective ‘sapphic’ and whose home of Lesbos gives us the word ‘lesbian’. She is included in this display not only through a collection of her poems, but also through Page duBois’s post-modern analysis of her work in Sappho is Burning.

Representing our archaeology collections on the LGBTQ+ front, both L’homosexualité dans le Proche-Orient Ancien et la Bible and Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt demonstrate the presence of individuals we might now consider queer in the Ancient Near East. The Queer Archaeologies special issue of the periodical World Archaeologies includes various perspectives on how the field can diversify its approach. One of the aspects of reading about LGBTQ+ interpretations of ancient history that I found enlightening is the way they challenge heteronormative cultural customs – questioning whether conclusions about ancient lives are backed up by evidence or based on imported modern assumptions.

 

 

Covers of LGBTQ+ Ancient History books.

 

One of the pioneers of treating the history of ancient art as a discipline was Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768). This influential gay philologist is represented by several books in the display, such as Winckelmann – das göttliche Geschlecht and Gay and Lesbian Studies in Art History. Both of these texts examine the ways that Winckelmann’s sexuality informed his approach to the study of ancient art, and contributed to his innovative modes of writing about the subject.

Photo of James Ivory filming 'Maurice'.
James Ivory filming E. M. Forster’s Maurice in the Egyptian sculpture gallery at the British Museum in 1986. Maurice: © Merchant Ivory Productions; photograph by Natasha Grenfell.

Winckelmann’s work was brought to my attention by Richard Parkinson, author of A Little Gay History, who also kindly donated one of the images accompanying this display.It depicts a still from the set of the film adaptation of E. M. Forster’s Maurice, directed and produced by partners James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Forster’s inspiration for the novel is also mentioned in the introduction to John Potvin’s Bachelors of a Different Sort as part of his evocations of queer masculine domestic life. The image serves to tie together some of the threads of the display, combining as it does the Egyptian artefacts in the British Museum with a behind-the-scenes look at the work of queer filmmakers.

There’s so much more fascinating material on LGBTQ+ related topics to discover throughout the Sackler Library’s collections, but only so much that could be fit into this display. However, I have included many more titles in the bibliography of this blog post – though, of course, I still have not included everything that the library has to offer!

 

Ashley Parry, Library Assistant
Sackler Library, Bodleian Libraries

 

Display List

Ackerman, S., 2005. When heroes love : the ambiguity of eros in the stories of Gilgamesh and David, New York.

 

Alvarado, L., Evans Frantz, D., Gómez-Barris, M., Ondine Chavovoya, C., et al., 2017, Axis mundo: queer networks in Chicano L.A., Munich.

 

Anthonissen, A., 2019. Queer!?: Beeldende kunst in Europa 1969-2019 = Visual arts in Europe 1969-2019, Zwolle.

 

Behdad, A. & Gartlan, L., 2013. Photography’s Orientalism: new essays on colonial representation, Los Angeles.

 

Betsky, A., 1997. Queer space: architecture and same-sex desire, New York.

 

Boehringer, S., 2021. Female homosexuality in ancient Greece and Rome, trans. Preger, A., London.

 

Cann, T., Kinigopoulo, A., Sawyer, D., & Weinburg, J., 2019, Art after Stonewall : 1969-1989, Columbus, OH.

 

Colomina, B., 1992. Sexuality & space, New York.

 

Cortjaens, W., Goerlitz, G., & Tobin, R. D., 2017. Winckelmann – Das göttliche Geschlecht Auswahlkatalog zur Ausstellung im Schwulen Museum Berlin, 16. Juni bis 9. Oktober 2017, Petersburg.

 

Davidson, J. N., 2007. The Greeks and Greek love: a radical reappraisal of homosexuality in ancient Greece, London.

 

Davis, W., 1994. Gay and lesbian studies in art history, New York.

 

Dowson, T. A., World Archaeology, Oct. 2000, Vol. 32 (2), ‘Queer Archaeologies’.

 

DuBois, P., 1995. Sappho is burning, Chicago.

 

Engel, C., Fenouillat, N., Guitton, A., Di Loreto, B., Loyau, F., Mestrov, I., & Olszewska, A., 2003. AIDS riot: collectifs d’artistes face au Sida = Artist collectives against AIDS, New York, 1987-1994: 12e session de l’École du Magasin, Grenoble.

 

Gilhuly, K., 2020. Erotic geographies in ancient Greek literature and culture, London.

 

Graves-Brown, C., 2008. Sex and gender in ancient Egypt: ‘don your wig for a joyful hour’, Swansea.

 

Gupta, S., 2011. Queer, Munich.

 

Hessler, S., 2021. Sex ecologies. Cambridge, MA.

 

Julien, I., 2008. Derek Jarman: brutal beauty. London.

 

Kuo, J. C., 2013. Contemporary Chinese Art and Film: Theory Applied and Resisted, Washington, D. C.

 

Mapplethorpe, R., Danto, A. C., Holborn, M., Levas, D., & Smith, P., 2020. Robert Mapplethorpe, London.

 

Meyer, R., 2003. Outlaw representation: censorship & homosexuality in twentieth-century American art, Boston.

 

Morelli, A., 2009. Roman Britain and classical deities: gender and sexuality in Roman art, Oxford.

 

Murphy, J. J., 2012. The black hole of the camera: the films of Andy Warhol, Berkely, CA.

 

Nardelli, J., 2007. Homosexuality and liminality in the Gilgameš and Samuel, Amsterdam.

 

Parkinson, R. B., 2013. A little gay history: desire and diversity across the world, London.

 

Potvin, J., 2014. Bachelors of a different sort : queer aesthetics, material culture and the modern interior in Britain, Manchester.

 

Rault, J., 2011. Eileen Gray and the design of sapphic modernity: staying in, Farnham.

 

Römer, T. & Bonjour, L., 2016. L’homosexualité dans le Proche-Orient ancien et la Bible,

 

Rorato, L., 2014. Caravaggio in film and literature: popular culture’s appropriation of a baroque genius, London.

 

Like @ SAC! Tutankhamun at the Sackler Library: Excavating the Archive

 

‘Yes, wonderful things’(?)
A Book Display at the Sackler Library

By Susanne Woodhouse

 

Fig. 1: The Tutankhamun book display at the Sackler Library. Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

In 1922, as Egypt moved towards becoming an independent nation, the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered at Luxor. The excavation of the tomb by Howard Carter and his team developed into a media event and was photographed by Harry Burton (1879–1940), from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The prints and negatives became part of an archive created by the excavators, along with letters, plans, drawings and diaries. When Carter died in 1939, he bequeathed most of his estate to his niece, Phyllis Walker (1897–1977), including the archaeological records. Following the advice of Egyptologists Alan H. Gardiner (1879–1963) and Percy E. Newberry (1869–1949), who had both been on the team, Walker presented the documentation, with associated copyright, to the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, in 1945. The physical archive remains in Oxford and can be freely explored online, allowing scholars from across the world to continually reassess the burial and its discovery (Rosenow, Parkinson 2022: 8).

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in November 1922, Griffith Institute staff, working with Bodleian Libraries staff, created the exhibition Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive which can be seen at the Weston Library until 5 February 2023. (Fig. 2A). The accompanying publication (Fig. 2B) provides an overview of the archive, featuring 50 key items.

 

 

In conjunction with both anniversary and Weston Library exhibition, the current Tutankhamun book display at the Sackler Library (Oxford’s central repository for research publications on Egyptology) showcases a selection of works from its collections (Fig. 1). The items are organised into four thematic groups, with relevant new publications added throughout the duration of the display. Special features of this Sackler book display also include the facsimiles of two drawings by Carter; of Carter’s 1922 excavation diary in which he noted the discovery of the first step of an unknown tomb on 4 November; and of a photo album sold to tourists during the clearance of the tomb (Fig. 3).

 

 

Fig. 3: Items from the Howard Carter Archive (facsimiles). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

The publication group “The Excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb and its finds” sets the scene with the authoritative work The tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen: discovered by the late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter, published in three volumes between 1923 and 1933 by Howard Carter and Arthur Mace (1874-1928). The first volume, opened at page 96 (Fig. 4), features in the centre of the display: here, the reader will find the magic words ‘Yes, wonderful things’, supposedly uttered by Carter when glimpsing, through a small breach in the doorway into the Antechamber of the tomb, and making out, in the flickering light of a candle, golden beds in various animal shapes, exquisite furniture, alabaster vessels and food containers. The b/w photo (Plate XV, opposite page 96) captures Carter’s view. However, according to his Excavation Journal (26 November 1922), held in the Griffith Institute Archive, Carter replied ‘Yes, it is wonderful’, casting doubt on the precise wording of his comment (James 2006: 253); the Weston Library exhibition catalogue leans more towards the version given in the Excavation Journal, written close to the events (Parkinson 2022: 40-41) and not intended for the general public.

 

Fig. 4: ‘Yes, wonderful things’ (Carter, H., Mace, A. C. (1923): 96. Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

When concerns regarding media access and the constant stream of visitors to the small tomb came to a head between Carter and the Egyptian Antiquities Service in February 1924, Carter and his team departed from the site mid-season, leaving behind the heavy coffin lid hanging from the scaffolding above the coffin. In a statement underpinned by documents for private circulation Carter sets forth his line of action. With only a few dozen copies printed, this historic document was reprinted and introduced by N. Reeves in 1998 (Fig. 5).

These events also feature in a then little-known publication, ‘Schlagzeile Tutenchamun’ in which the author retraces the general media coverage of the discovery of the tomb received in the world press, including in Germany (Fig. 6).

 

 

Once recorded by Carter and his team, the finds were crated and shipped to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo at the end of each excavation season, for immediate display. Curious travellers calling on Carter for a tour of the tomb were referred to the Tutankhamun collection at the Egyptian Museum. In 1926 the first catalogue of the permanently displayed objects was published (Fig. 7), serving interested visitors as a gallery guide. Future supplements of the catalogue were to include newly added objects.

 

Fig. 8: Drawing of the four sides of all four nested shrines which enclosed the coffin (Piankoff 1951-1952: pl. 22). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

The popular account ‘The tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen’ was Carter’s only monograph on this subject. Although he continued adding to the excavation files, the planned multi-volume work dedicated to the finds never materialised. Owning the publication rights, Carter was in a position to ask colleagues for help with this colossal task but it doesn’t seem he ever did. After his death in 1939 the rights, together with his papers, were transferred to his niece who subsequently deeded them to the Griffith Institute in 1945. Finally, in 1951 the first scholarly monograph, dedicated to one object group from the tomb, was published by Alexandre Piankoff, a specialist in religious texts.

 

In the introduction to ‘Les chapelles de Tout-Ankh-Amon’ (Fig. 8) the author recalls how during WWII the Director General of the Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte suggested he prepare a study of the texts on these four shrines, and how afterwards Oxford-based Alan Gardiner granted Piankoff the publication rights. An expanded English version was published in 1955 (Fig. 9).

 

Fig. 9: The second golden shrine (Piankoff 1955). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

In her extensive study of the iconic photographs produced by Harry Burton, Christina Riggs calls them ‘the most famous and compelling archaeological images ever made’ (Fig. 10). She describes the technical aspects of producing glass negatives and the difficult working conditions under which Burton took well over 3,000 shots.

 

Fig. 10: Harry Burton’s photo of Tutankhamun’ coffin being examined (Riggs 2019: fig. 7.1). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

Sumptuous colour images of the objects were published in 2007 in the form of a coffee-table book, the product of a  successful cooperation between the photographer Sandro Vannini and the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass (Fig. 11).

Once Carter’s papers and the publication rights were transferred to the Griffith Institute, Alan Gardiner worked tirelessly on having the tomb content published; this is the topic of the second thematic group on display: “Tutankhamun and Oxford”. The Griffith Institute did not have the financial means required for the multi-volume scholarly publication of the tomb finds (Fox 1951: Preface; Eaton-Krauss 2020: 17) and the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution in 1952 put an end to Gardiner’s efforts to find the necessary funding in Egypt (James 2006: 445; Eaton-Krauss 2020: 217-218).

 

 

In 1951 Oxford University Press published ‘Tutankhamun’s treasure’, written by the Griffith Institute’s Assistant Secretary Penelope Fox and highlighting various objects from the tomb (Fig. 12). Although this book was not the ultimate publication Alan Gardiner had in mind, it was the first monograph dedicated to the tomb’s finds produced in Oxford.

Eleven years later the Griffith Institute finally published its first object-focused study. ‘Tutankhamun’s painted  box’ is the result of a collaboration between the preeminent copyist and illustrator Nina de Garis Davies (1881-1965), who painted facsimiles of all five decorated surfaces of the box, and Alan Gardiner, who wrote the introduction (Fig. 13).

 

Fig. 13: Panel of a box from the tomb of Tutankhamun, copied by Nina de Garis Davies (Davies, Gardiner 1962). Image credit: Griffith Institute

 

Finally, in 1963 the Griffith Institute’s Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series (Fig. 14) was launched and a total of nine monographs were published until 1990 when the series was discontinued (Eaton-Krauss 2020: 218-219). Since this date the Griffith Institute has published further definitive monographs on specific object groups from the tomb, though these are no longer part of a series.

 

Fig. 14: Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series (v. 9 was on loan at the time the image was taken). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

Fig. 15: Catalogue for the Tutankhamun exhibition at the British Museum in 1972 (Edwards 1972b). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

Titled “Tutankhamun and the British Museum” the third publication group on display centres on one of the most iconic exhibitions ever shown in the UK. With 1,602,000 visitors, it was the most successful exhibition at the British Museum to date. In 1972, after years of preparations and negotiations, the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb was celebrated with a special exhibition at the British Museum; 50 objects from the tomb were on show, including the golden mask. The cover of the accompanying exhibition catalogue shows an intimate scene between the King and his Queen from a gilded shrine, framed in shades of orange and brown typical for the time (Fig. 15). In a contemporary BBC 4 documentary Magnus Magnusson introduced viewers to the exhibition. The proceeds from this  — £600,000 (today’s value £7,6m) — helped pay for the rescue of the temples at Philae (Edwards 1972a: 10; Zaki 2017: 86).

 

In 1992, the 70th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery, the British Museum showcased Howard Carter’s 30 years of work in Egypt prior to 1922. The exhibition was an academic and popular success (Fig. 16).

 

Having known families of colleagues as well as close contacts of Carter and having been granted unique access to their papers, T.G.H. James (1923-2009), Deputy Keeper of the Egyptian Department at the British Museum at the time of the 1972 blockbuster, wrote an authoritative biography on Carter (James 2006: Fig. 17). This publication was followed by a lavishly illustrated book in which he discusses objects from the tomb (James 2007).

Aspects addressed in the fourth thematic group on display, “Reception of Tutankhamun”, are Egyptomania (Fig. 18), literature, Egypt’s nationalist movement, and tourism in Egypt in the wake of the discovery of the tomb.

 

Fig. 18: A Cartier brooch inspired by Tutankhamun’s head, shown emerging from a lotus flower (Humbert, Pantazzi, Ziegler 1994: cat. No. 366). Image credit: S. Woodhouse

 

Susanne Woodhouse
Subject Librarian for Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Bodleian Libraries

With the assistance of Jenna Ilett
Graduate Library Trainee
Bodleian Libraries

__________________________________________________________________

 References

Eaton-Krauss, M. (2020) ‘Publications in monographic form of the ‘treasure’ of Tutankhamun, 1952-2020′, Göttinger Miszellen, 262, pp. 217-225.

Eaton-Krauss, M. (2014) ‘Impact of the discovery of KV62 (The Tomb of Tutankhamun)’, KMT, 25.1, pp. 29-37.

Rosenow, D. and Parkinson, R.B. (2022) ‘Tutankhamun: The Oxford Archive’, Scribe. The American Research Center in Egypt, 58, 8–11.

Zaki, A. A. (2017) ‘Tutankhamun Exhibition at the British Museum in 1972: a historical perspective’, Journal of Tourism Theory and Research, 3(2), 2017, 80-88. DOI: 10.24288/jttr.312180

Displayed books

Baines, J. and el-Khouli, A. (1993) Stone vessels, pottery and sealings from the tomb of Tutʿankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum.

Beinlich, H., Saleh, M. and Murray, H. (1989) Corpus der hieroglyphischen Inschriften aus dem Grab des Tutanchamun : mit Konkordanz der Nummernsysteme des “Journal d’Entrée” des Ägyptischen Museums Kairo, der Handlist to Howard Carter’s catalogue of objects in Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb und der Ausstell. Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum.

Broschat, K. and Schutz, M. (2021) Iron from Tutankhamun’s tomb. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Carter, H. (1998) Tut·ankh·amen : the politics of discovery. London: Libri.

Carter, H. and Mace, A.C. (1923-1933) The tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen discovered by the late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter. 3 vols. London ; New York: Cassell.

Černý, J. (1965) Hieratic inscriptions from the tomb of Tutʿankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 2).

Colla, E. (2007) Conflicted antiquities : Egyptology, Egyptomania, Egyptian modernity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Collins, P. and McNamara, L. (2014) Discovering Tutankhamun. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum.

Davies, N.M. and Gardiner, A.H. (1962) Tutankhamun’s painted box : reproduced in colour from the original in the Cairo Museum. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Dobson, E. (2020) Writing the Sphinx : literature, culture and Egyptology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh critical studies in Victorian culture).

Eaton-Krauss, M. and Graefe, E. (1985) The small golden shrine from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Oxford : Atlantic Highlands, N.J: Griffith Institute ; Distributed in the U.S.A. by Humanities Press.

Eaton-Krauss, M. (1993) The sarcophagus in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum.

Eaton-Krauss, M. and Segal, W. (2008) The thrones, chairs, stools, and footstools from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Edwards, I.E.S. (1972a) ‘The Tutankhamun exhibition’, British Museum Society Bulletin, 9, pp. 7-11.

Edwards, I.E.S. (1972b) Treasures of Tutankhamun. London: British Museum.

Fox, P. (1951) Tutankhamun’s treasure. London ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Gabolde, M. (2015) Toutankhamon. Paris: Pygmalion (Grands pharaons).

Germer, R. (1989) Die Pflanzenmaterialien aus dem Grab des Tutanchamun. Hildesheim: Gerstenberg (Hildesheimer ägyptologische Beiträge ; 28).

Haas Dantes, F. (2022) Transformation eines Königs : eine Analyse der Ausstattung von Tutanchamuns Mumie. S.l.: SCHWABE AG.

Hawass, Z.A. and Vannini, S. (2007) King Tutankhamun : the treasures of the tomb. London: Thames & Hudson.

Hepper, F.N. (2009) Pharaoh’s flowers : the botanical treasures of Tutankhamun. 2nd edn. Chicago ; London: KWS Pub.

Humbert, J.-M (2022) Art déco : Égyptomanie. Paris: Norma Éditions

Humbert, J.-M., Pantazzi, M. and Ziegler, C. (1994) Egyptomania : l’Égypte dans l’art occidental, 1730-1930. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux.

James, T.G.H. (2006) Howard Carter : the path to Tutankhamun. Rev, pbk. London: Taurus Parke Paperbacks.

James, T.G.H. (2007) Tutankhamun : the eternal splendor of the boy pharaoh. Rev. Vercelli: White Star.

Jones, D. (1990) Model boats from the tomb of Tuʿtankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 9).

Leek, F.F. (1972) The human remains from the tomb of Tutʿankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 5).

Littauer, M.A. and Crouwel, J.H. (1985) Chariots and related equipment from the tomb of Tut’ankhamūn. Oxford : Atlantic Highlands, N.J: Griffith Institute ; Distributed in the U.S.A. by Humanities Press (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 8).

Málek, J. (2007) Tutankhamun : the secrets of the tomb and the life of the Pharaohs. London: Carlton.

Manniche, L. (1976) Musical instruments from the tomb of Tut’ankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 6).

Manniche, L. (2019) The ornamental calcite vessels from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Leuven: Peeters (Griffith Institute publications).

Matḥaf al-Miṣrī (1926) A short description of the objects from the tomb of Tutankhamum now exhibited in the Cairo Museum. [Cairo: Egyptian Museum].

McLeod, W. (1970) Composite bows from the tomb of Tut’ankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 3).

McLeod, W. (1982) Self bows and other archery tackle from the tomb of Tutʿankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 4).

Murray, H. and Nuttall, M. (1963) A handlist to Howard Carter’s catalogue of objects in Tutʿankhamūn’s tomb. Oxford: Printed for the Griffith Institute at the University Press by V. Ridler (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 1).

Otto, A. (2005) Schlagzeile Tutenchamun : die publizistische Begleitung der Entdeckung und der Ausräumung des Grabes von Tutenchamun. Marburg: Tectum.

Parkinson, R.B. (ed.) (2022) Tutankhamun : excavating the archive. Oxford: Bodleian Library.

Piankoff, A. (1951-1952) Les chapelles de Tout-Ankh-Amon. Le Caire: Impr. de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Mémoires publiés par les membres de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire ; t.72).

Piankoff, A. and Rambova, N. (1955) The shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon. New York: Pantheon Books (Bollingen Series ; 40:2).

Quaegebeur, J. and Cherpion, N. (1999) La naine et le bouquetin : ou l’énigme de la barque en albâtre de Toutankhamon. Leuven: Peeters.

Reeves, N. (1990) The complete Tutankhamun : the king, the tomb, the royal treasure. London: Thames and Hudson.

Reeves, N. and Taylor, J.H. (1992) Howard Carter before Tutankhamun. London: British Museum Press for the Trustees of the British Museum.

Reid, D.M. (2015) Contesting antiquity in Egypt : archaeologies, museums & the struggle for identities from World War I to Nasser. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Riggs, C. and Wace, R. (2017) Tutankhamun : the original photographs. London: Rupert Wace Ancient Art.

Riggs, C. (2019) Photographing Tutankhamun : archaeology, ancient Egypt, and the archive. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts (Photography, history: history, photography).

Riggs, C. (2021) Treasured : how Tutankhamun shaped a century. London: Atlantic Books.

Tait, W.J. (1982) Game-boxes and accessories from the tomb of Tutʿankhamūn. Oxford: Griffith Institute (Tutʿankhamūn’s Tomb Series ; 7).

Vartavan, C.de. and Boodle, L.A. (1999) Hidden fields of Tutankhamun : from identification to interpretation of newly discovered plant material from the Pharaoh’s grave. London: Triade Exploration (Triade Exploration’s opus magnum series in the field of Egyptology ; 2).

Veldmeijer, A.J. (2010) Tutankhamun’s footwear : studies of ancient Egyptian footwear. Norg, Netherlands: Drukware.

Vogelsang-Eastwood, G., Hense, M. and Wilson, K. (1999) Tutankhamun’s wardrobe : garments from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Rotterdam: Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co’s.

Wilkinson, T. (2022) Tutankhamun’s trumpet : the story of ancient Egypt in 100 objects. London: Picador.

 

Marking Ukraine Independence Day: 24 August 2022

Ukraine Independence Day at the Sackler Library
Book Display

By Jamie Copeland

 

The Sackler Library has hosted a display celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion back in February (see below for one such iteration).

 

A previous version of the Sackler Library’s Ukraine book display

 

Although the display was curated and regularly updated (by Graduate Library Trainee Izzie Salter, during her traineeship) it was felt that something new should be created; both to mark Ukraine Independence Day and to do what the Libraries could to promote an awareness of Ukraine’s artistic, archaeological and architectural heritage. There was also the opportunity to display the breadth of the Sackler’s collections, stretching from archaeological findings, including Scythian jewellery, through the Golden Age of Kyiv and the treasures of the churches, up to the strife of recent centuries and events where avant-garde and contemporary artists have continued the varieties of a resilient Ukrainian culture.

As the deadline of Ukraine Independence Day was close, I wanted to focus largely on the Sackler’s collections as they were immediately accessible (compared to the items held in other libraries) and could be selected for visual impact and as part of a curated collection focusing on material culture. I also wanted to take the opportunity to highlight individual artists who I felt had made important contributions to Ukraine’s culture. One of the more interesting issues of the conflict was also the debate about what constituted an independent Ukraine and whether there was such a nationality as the Ukrainians; from the history of nomadic populations and disputed borders to the internationalism of the USSR, masking famines and deportations. By promoting individual artists, I felt I could examine the histories of people such as Kazimir Malevich, an ethnically Polish artist born in Kiev, highly regarded as a leading figure in the Soviet avant-garde who described his nationality as Ukrainian when arrested for crimes against ‘Socialist Realism’. Another figure I found to be of interest was Donia Naschen, born in Zhitomir (then Russia, now Ukraine) whose family fled tsarist pogroms to settle in London, illustrating editions of Gogol, translations of the Haggadah, and WWII propaganda posters. I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight such individuals, from various backgrounds, linked by war and exile, but marked, I felt, by the shared environment of Ukraine and its cultures.

It was also necessary to create a poster to publicize the display. While researching the artists I had seen a particular work by Malevich which, unlike his more abstract works, shows a figure, almost devoid of feature, standing against a background that closely matches the Ukraine flag. Although the figure is faceless it seemed that this made it more representative of a people, with its seeming motionless, expressing an air of steadfastness.

 

 

While reading about the painting technique used by Malevich, the building of layers of paint to achieve a unique colour through the accumulation of surfaces, it occurred to me that I could add a (digital) layer of yellow to the image to heighten the resemblance to the flag without completely effacing the underlying image. I felt that this could be symbolic of the various histories of Ukraine and work as a promotional poster for the display, which I intended to reflect the Sackler’s holdings on Ukraine’s culture, celebrating its Independence Day, while extending beyond the war. The alterations to the image were made with GIMP, using largely fill and brush effects to retain a paint resemblance and allow the original image to show through. This was then pasted into a Word document to enable revisions to the text of the poster to be easily made.

With the art, archaeology and architecture collections that would make up the display, I wanted to include some books, such as ‘The gates of Europe: a history of Ukraine’ that would give an accessible overview of the nation’s history, combined with books, preferably in one of the languages previously/currently used in Ukraine, and from the Sackler holdings, that could address more specific topics. I wanted these, as being largely textual, to be arranged in a stack similar to a bookshop display to encourage people to feel free to browse the volumes without feeling that they were tampering with an arranged display.

To complement this and to reflect the strengths of the Sackler Library collections in architecture, archaeology and art I decided to group books in an order that would broadly follow the layout of the collections around the Sackler’s five-floor building. (See below image galleries.) So, starting from the left-hand side of the display, with items from the archaeology collections (normally housed on the Library’s lower floors) forming a pillar surmounted by a striking visual image. Complementing this, I placed a German language book on the early history of the Crimea, choosing a map showing the Scythians’ movement through the Crimea, which I hoped would display the long history of migration while showing Ukraine and the currently annexed Crimea as deeply connected geographies. The facing page also had illustrations of archaeological finds, which I wanted as a demonstration of the scientific aspect of that collection. While arranging the display I became concerned that a prominent map of an invasion might not be suitable for a day celebrating that nation’s independence. To balance this, I placed a book showing the collection of the Lviv Picture Gallery, open at a page containing a portrait of a woman dressed in blue and yellow.

 

 

Echoing this, and shifting to the Sackler Library’s art collections, I placed a selection of books on individual artists in the space behind, with the book, ‘Alexis Gritchenko: Dynamocolor’ opened at a painting that again had strong use of yellow and blue facing the chapter title quotation ‘The Young Ukrainian Artist Has Conquered Paris’ which I felt demonstrated the importance of Ukraine’s contribution to global culture and refuted the claim that Ukraine was merely a Russian province whose sense of nationhood was a recent Western creation.

 

 

To support the poster, I placed a book with Malevich’s name clearly visible. Although the Sackler has impressive holdings of publications on this artist I was careful about keeping the focus upon Ukraine Independence Day, so I restricted myself to one book on Malevich and one book about the Anna Leporskaya collection of his work, as she was an important Ukraine artist in her own right. I also felt her work as an archivist indicated the importance of cultural institutions as collective memory-banks. Below this, I placed a copy of the Haggadah, open at Donia Naschen’s illustration of Israel’s bondage, as I felt this would be a recognisable scene and that the yellow matched the adjacent promotion of badges supporting Ukraine.

Ukraine badges

(Please collect your Ukraine badge from the display.)

Finally, I placed another group of books themed around religious art and church buildings, as this would represent the Sackler’s holdings on architecture, and the significance of the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019, described by the then president as ‘a charter of [Ukraine’s] spiritual independence’.

Although reasonably happy with the final arrangement of the display, I was conscious of the need to show traditionally underrepresented artists and cultures within the Ukraine spectrum. Although work on these categories has been published recently, many of these publications are available primarily online so I was unable to include them in the display. I also wanted to make better use of the Sackler’s collections of art journals, especially regarding more contemporary artists. As the plan is to update the display in coming weeks I hope to be able to include this material in future arrangements.

Jamie Copeland
Library Assistant, Reader Services, Sackler Library

Book Display List

Andersen, Troels K.S.
Malevich: the Leporskaya archive
N6999.M34 A834 AND 2011
https://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/89vilt/oxfaleph019770336

Brett, C. E. B.
Towers of Crim Tartary: English and Scottish architects and craftsmen in the Crimea, 1762-1853
947 K.Bre

Exter, A.
Alexandra Exter: Farbrhytmen
927.9 Ext.K

Müller, S. & others
Die Krim
580 M.104

Nakov, Andrei B.
Malevich: painting the absolute
N6999.M34 N35 NAK 2010

Nikitenko, N. N.
Sobor Svi͡atoĭ Sofii v Kieve: istorii͡a, arkhitektura, zhivopisʹ, nekropolʹ
S.vii. 87

Pekarska, L. & others
Jewellery of Princely Kiev: The Kiev Hoards in the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
S.iv. 376

Plokhy, Serhii.
The gates of Europe: a history of Ukraine
Week 45 (15)

Povstenko, Oleksa
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev
947 K.Kie

Roth, C., & D. Nachschen
The Haggadah: a new edition with English translation
HL3H [Nizami Ganjavi Library]

Shevchenko, Taras,
T.G. Shevchenko: zhivopis.
927.9 She.Z(1964) [pamph.]

Stepovyk, D. V.
Taras Shevchenko: zhyvopys, hrafika, alʹbom
927.9 She.S

Ukrainian Millennium Committee in Great Britain
A Millennium of Christian culture in Ukraine
M88.C00608

 

Sackler 101: New Acquisitions Lists

Many readers have commented on our visually and intellectually stimulating New Books Displays. Updated on a weekly basis, hard copy materials continue to be essential research tools for Sackler readers and we, too, think it’s important to showcase all the new acquisitions we receive.

(Photo credit: Grace Brown, Sackler Library)

The New Books Display is one of the final stages in a monograph’s journey to the Sackler’s shelves. It begins with our four Subject Librarians, specialists in their fields, who decide which new books (and journals) should be acquired. They make these decisions informed by their knowledge of the subject, their familiarity with relevant courses offered within the university, their understanding of readers’ areas of research, study and teaching, and also based on information received via reader recommendations. Our Subject Librarians liaise with Acquisitions staff who place orders with appropriate book sellers (aka ‘vendors’) and create what is known as a ‘minimal bibliographic record’ for each title on SOLO. (Hence researchers can use SOLO to find out whether a publication is ‘On Order’.) When books arrive from vendors they are passed to Cataloguing staff who create the full bibliographic records you see on SOLO. The books are delivered to the Sackler Library, and Reader Services staff transfer them to the New Books Display. (There is a parallel process for journal issues.)

New Books Displays were suspended during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, when the Sackler Library, along with the other Bodleian Libraries, was closed. Once we reopened (August 2020) and books began arriving again, we were able to reinstate our Displays.

While our physical New Books Displays are a great resource our readers have long expressed their interest in another important tool: New Acquisitions Lists. Similarly suspended during the pandemic, these have taken longer to reinstate (largely owing to e-infrastructure changes affecting the Bodleian Libraries as a whole). We are very pleased to re-launch these lists, beginning with a monster group of ‘back-lists’.

(Photo credit: Izzie Salter, Sackler Library)

This post provides links to lists of all new print acquisitions (monographs and journal issues) received by the Sackler Library since 2020:

– New Acquisitions, 2020-2021: monographs

– New Acquisitions, 2020-2021: journal issues

– New Acquisitions, 2020-2021: offsite material

– New Acquisitions, Michaelmas term, 2021: monographs

– New Acquisitions, Michaelmas term, 2021: journal issues

– New Acquisitions, Michaelmas term, 2021: offsite material

– New Acquisitions, Hilary term, 2022: monographs

– New Acquisitions, Hilary term, 2022: journal issues

– New Acquisitions, Hilary term, 2022: offsite material

Future lists will be released on the Sackler Library blog, on a regular basis.

 

Jennifer Bladen-Hovell, Senior Library Assistant, Sackler Library
Clare Hills-Nova, Librarian in Charge, Sackler Library

Viewing our Special Collections: An Event for History of Art Students

Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translated by T.G. Bergin. Illustrated by Leonard Baskin (New York: Grossman, 1969)

 

This blog post documents my experience as a Graduate Library Trainee assisting at the ‘Introduction to Bodleian Libraries Special Collections’ event, held for History of Art undergraduate and graduate students at the Taylor Institution Library in December 2021.

 

Setting up for the Bodleian Libraries Special Collections event held for History of Art students at the Taylor Institution Library, December 2021. In the foreground: Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven. Illustrated by Mario Prassinos. (Paris: P. Vorms, 1952)

 

Across the libraries, we hold a myriad of intriguing and unique items. Still, it may be difficult for readers to know how to find these, and where to start. It is here where the then Subject Librarian for Art & Architecture Librarian and Italian Literature & Language, Clare Hills-Nova, was able to draw upon her knowledge of the Bodleian Libraries’ collections to introduce History of Art students to a few of our less well-known holdings.

Since having arrived at the Sackler in September 2021, I have been fortunate to spend plenty of time around visual culture materials. I’ve arranged a Japanese photobook display (in support of the Ashmolean’s Tokyo! exhibition), relabelled items from the WJ Strachan collectionand processed new publications about architects and artists on a broad range of periods and geographic areas. This is a far cry from my undergraduate haunts of law statutes and case reports – albeit a very welcome change. When Clare asked me to support the event she was planning for the History of Art Department’s students, and subsequently attend it, I was more than happy.

Artist interpretations of Dante’s Divine Comedy (14th Century – 21st Century)

The event comprised two parts. The first, held in the Voltaire Room, expanded upon the Taylorian’s exhibition on Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, which my fellow Trainee Malcolm Spencer has so wonderfully discussed. The exhibition’s curator, Professor Gervase Rosser led a presentation here – titled ‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy – on artists’ interpretations of the themes expressed in the Comedy.

Voltaire Room
‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy’. Exhibition installation: One of the display cases in the Voltaire Room, Taylor Institution Library, showcasing work inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy. (Artists represented: Federico Zuccari, Giovanni Stradano, John Flaxman and Leonard Baskin.) Credit: Malcolm Spencer

 

This incorporated a vast range of work and approaches, as Professor Rosser traced the fluctuating reception of Dante’s Divine Comedy through the centuries. The talk (and display) included: a facsimile of one of the earliest illustrated Dante manuscripts of the 1330s; an edition of Doré’s seminal engravings, through which he became considered a ‘master of the visually dramatic narrative’ (Angel, 2014) (see image below, line 2, tile 1);  and  American artist Leonard Baskin’s compelling illustrations (1969). Also on view were some of the many recent translations of the Divine Comedy — some of them with striking book covers and other illustrative material.

 

A selection of translations of and commentaries on Dante’s Divine Comedy, from 1544 to 2018, shown at the event.

 

 

Edouard Goerg. L’Enfer [Dante’s Hell] (Paris: J. Porson, 1950)

 

 

In advance of this, Malcolm and I gathered together items on artists’ engagement with Dante from our libraries.

Among these were a small publication illustrating Geoffrey MacEwan’s paintings, Edouard Goerg’s etchings for Dante’s L’Enfer (Hell), many new translations with images of the Divine Comedy, and the Uffizi’s recent exhibition catalogue, Dante: la visione dell’arte, documenting many of the countless works inspired by Dante and the rest of his literary oeuvre. Books additional to those already on view in the exhibition’s display cases were arranged carefully around the room, framing the exhibition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athanasius Kircher’s L’Arca di Noë (Amsterdam, 1675)

Athanasius Kircher. L’Arca di Noë (Amsterdam, 1975)

 

The second part of the event took place in the Taylorian’s Room 2, and showcased other works from the Sackler, Taylorian and Weston Libraries’ Special Collections. These works ranged in date and publication location from 17th century Amsterdam to 1970s Tokyo, via 1960s Los Angeles. Here, the earliest work on display was Athanasius Kircher’s (1602-1680) L’Arca di Noë (Amsterdam, 1675). This publication includes, for example, as shown, Kircher’s illustrations of hieroglyphics. Kircher prolifically studied and attempted to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics – from his translations and commentaries, he became considered ‘one of the greatest polymaths in 17th-Century Europe’ (Klawitter, 2015).

The page on display at the event was a fold-out depiction of the interior of Noah’s Ark, showing Noah’s family members, barrels of food (or beer) and a menagerie of creatures. What struck me in this view was the measurements below the image, giving dimensions of the Ark itself. Beyond being a fascinating detail, this grounds the narrative in reality. For contemporaries, it made the Ark easier to conceive, and its magnificent nature – even including a pair of unicorns – that bit more believable.  

Athanasius Kircher. L’Arca di Noë (1675) [composite image of several photos, from a fold-out page in the book, pasted together]
Up close: beer barrels and unicorns; measurements of the Ark.

 

F.G. Haverfield Collection (18th century interpretations of Classical art)

Turning to 18th century England, students could also see examples from the Sackler’s F. J. Haverfield Archive — specifically,  from his collection of images of Romano-British pavement mosaics. On display was an illustration of the mosaic found at Littlecote Park, Wiltshire – the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic – alongside Joseph Bonomi’s (1739-1808) original carpet and ceiling designs (1785) for Bowood House, Wiltshire. Bonomi, like many of his contemporaries such as the Adam brothers – John (1721-1792), Robert (1728-1792), and James (1732- 1794) – for whom he worked at various points, was inspired by classical art and architecture. It is thought that Haverfield may have included the Bonomi designs in his image collection because one of their sources of inspiration could have been the mosaics discovered around this time. Indeed, the carpet bears some resemblance in shape and content to the mosaic (and is perhaps why Haverfield included it in his collection).  You can find more about these works in a blog post written by former Trainee, Chloe Bolsover. These parallels were instantly compelling. The students could see the physical copies displayed side-by-side, draw comparisons, and possibly gain an understanding of the thought processes underlying Haverfield’s collection.

 

Joseph Bonomi. Carpet and Centaur Ceiling designs for Bowood House, Wiltshire (1785); George Vertue. A Roman mosaic found at Littlecote Park (1730)

 

W.J. Strachan Collection (mid-20th Century)

In the weeks preceding the event, Clare and I had explored the Strachan Collection of mid-20th century artists’ books, made in France, for potential display items. The Strachan Collection comprises over 250 items – with, according to Strachan himself, ‘every ‘ism” from Cubism to neo-realism represented. Therefore, deciding which items to include for the event was a challenge.

William Shakespeare. La Tempête. Illustrated by Leonor Fini (Paris: Aux dépens d’un amateur1965)

 

Ultimately, we decided to focus primarily on women, non-French and other less well-known artists. Among the selection was Leonor Fini’s beautiful lithographs for Shakespeare’s La Tempête (The Tempest), and Chinese artist Zao Wou-ki’s lithographs illustrating André Malraux’s La Tentation de l’Occident. To me, Wou-ki’s work was especially well-suited for the ‘Show’ aspect of this event: his bright and gestural work seems to capture harsh emotions so succinctly: hard to miss.

Andre Malraux. La Tentation de l’Occident. Illustrated by Zao Wou-ki (Paris: Les Bibliophiles Comptois, 1962) [Lower left corner: Le livre d’artiste: A Catalogue of the W.J. Strachan gift to the Taylor Institution (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum & Taylor Institution, 1987)]

 

Hans Bellmer, a German artist, was also on display. Bellmer is best known for creating a series of life-sized dolls and photographing them. The Nazi Party labelled this work as ‘degenerate’, causing him to flee to France in 1938, where he remained for the rest of his life. His interest in dolls can be seen in his engravings for Les Marionettes, through the somewhat disjointed limbs he illustrated. These are coloured with a distinct blue and yellow. For me, this made Bellmer’s work  particularly effective for a Show-and-Tell: viewers can trace the lines of his drawings, and enjoy the unique colours against the brown paper.

Heinrich von Kleist. Les Marionettes. Illustrated by Hans Bellmer (Paris: G. Visat, 1970)

 

Alongside these artists from the Strachan collection was Wifredo Lam’s etchings for L’antichambre de la Nature.  Of Chinese and Afro-Cuban descent Lam became familiar with African spiritual rites. It was also at this point that he began to be influenced by Surrealism. In 1938, he moved to Paris and met members of the art and poetry scene. He began to work alongside Picasso and became more interested by Cubism. After the Nazis occupied Paris, Lam returned to Cuba. Here, he combined his multiple artistic influences with his cultural experiences to create works on Afro-Cuban identity. To me, these various influences make Lam’s work so unique and striking. His singular work was therefore very fitting for the event, both to look at and to appreciate the diversity of the 1930s Parisian art scene.

Alain Jouffroy. L’antichambre de la Nature. Illustrated by Wifredo Lam (Paris: O. Lazar-Vernet, 1960)

 

Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)

Edward Ruscha. Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Los Angeles, 1966)
Students viewing Edward Ruscha. Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Los Angeles, 1966)

We also showed Edward (Ed) Ruscha’s iconic Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)Running through through West Hollywood, Ruscha pasted hundreds of his photographs of the Strip together to create an 8-metre linear image. He shot these photos from his pick-up truck, with a motorized Nikon camera positioned on top. Interestingly, Ruscha opted to set the lens to infinity, bringing everything in each image into equal focus. The result is remarkable, almost like a flattened montage. Every Building on the Sunset Strip arrived in a slim silver slipcase – deceptively, very small (18 cm.). As we unfolded it, we asked our building staff, again and again, to bring in another table to support the length of the ‘strip’. It ended up stretching almost the whole length of the Taylorian’s Room 2! In the images shown here, the viewer can grasp the extent of the Strip, as Ruscha perhaps intended it to be viewed (many museums display it in concertina format).

 

Edward Ruscha. Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)

 

The Japanese Box (1960s-1970s)

The item I was personally most excited about was The Japanese Box, a facsimile edition (2001) of seminal photographic works produced in post-War Japan. Throughout this Michaelmas term 2021 at the Sackler Library, I worked with a lot of material on Japanese photography, particularly from the 1970s. I created a book display in conjunction with the Tokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, and a corresponding blog post. Whilst researching for the post, I read a lot about Provoke, a 1960s-1970s avant-garde Japanese photography magazine, and its associated photographers. I developed a real love for the style and telos of this magazine. The photographers tasked themselves with reclaiming ‘documentation’ and they were keen to show life in 1970s Japan beyond the general perception of it as an economic powerhouse and post-war ideal. When Clare told me that the event for the History of Art students would include a box of recently-acquired facsimiles of the three issues of Provoke, alongside monographs by Provoke photographers, I was genuinely thrilled.

 

The Japanese Box: Provoke issues 1, 2 and 3; Takuma Nakahira. Kitarubeki kotoba no tame ni (For a language to come(1970); Nobuyoshi Araki. Senchimentaru na tabi (Sentimental journey) (1971); and Daido Moriyama. Shashin yo sayonara (A farewell to photography(1972)

 

The Japanese Box : Facsimile Reprint of Six Rare Photographic Publications of the Provoke Era. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld.(Limited ed. Paris, 2001)

As with much of Japanese publishing it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the design and packaging of this facsimile set. Characteristically, the black box containing the publications was itself striking: it was designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Inside, ‘designer’ plastic bands, labelled ‘The Japanese Box’, carefully held the six publications together.  We spread them out on the table, ready for students to examine. Picking each volume up, we could see a rich array of photos of Japan and each artist’s personal experience of living there. This ranged from Nobuyoshi Araki’s photos of his honeymoon in Sentimental Journey (Senchimentaru na tabi), to student protests in Tokyo in Provoke. A few days ahead of the event, Clare asked me to introduce the event’s attendees to the box and its contents. Studying and presenting this set was a highlight of my traineeship. After my presentation several students asked to examine the Box’s contents further, and we discussed the Provoke movement while viewing our favourite images in the set. 

Concluding thoughts

At the event itself, the students appeared to be completely immersed in the works we showed. In the Voltaire Room, where Professor Gervase Rosser presented the Dante-inspired work, attendees asked questions about how different artists interpreted the themes of the Divine Comedy. In Room 2, the group lined up along the length of Every Building on the Sunset Strip, pointing at (for example) where pasted pictures cut up cars. L’Arca di Noë invited students to examine the interplay between imagination and reality, whilst others admired the various artists’ books and different mosaic patterns from the Haverfield collection. Although held on the last day of term, the event overran, with many attendees keen to continue examining and discussing the works on display. It was a huge success, and a tribute to the remarkable range of Special Collections held across the libraries. I cannot wait to explore them further.

Izzie Salter
Graduate Trainee, Sackler Library

References

Angel, Sara. “‘Too Many Illustrations, Not Enough Glory’: Known for his Art for Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ Gustave Dore Merited Wider Fame.” Maclean’s (Toronto) 127.23 (2014): 66. Web. (available publicly here)

Strachan, WJ. The Artist and the Book in France. The 20th Century Livre D’artiste. London: Owen, 1969. Print. (Sackler Library Shelfmark: 914.2 Str)

 

‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy’ Through the Eyes of Final Year Italian Students

Introduction

By Dr Rebecca Bowen (Retained Lecturer in Italian, Pembroke College)

Dante bust and exhibition poster
Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy. Exhibition view, Voltaire Room, Taylor Institution Library (October – December 2021)

2021 marked the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, Florentine poet, author of the Divine Comedy, and an icon of medieval European literature. The many celebrations held in his honour ranged from exhibitions, rare book displays and academic conferences to live readings of the poem and even Dante-themed ice-creams. This cultural eclecticism attests to the enduring impact of Dante’s works as well as the celebrity of his image, an image able to be absorbed into gastronomic promotions as much as lauded for its literary might. The distorting effects of fame were a preoccupation of Dante who, at the start of his philosophical treatise the Convivio, complains: ‘I have appeared before the eyes of many who, perhaps because of some report (fama), had imagined me in another light […since] the image generated by fame alone is always greater, whatever it may be, than the imagined thing in its true state’ (Convivio. I.iii.11).

Uncovering the ‘true state’ of Dante and his works is a primary aim of Dante Studies, an area of research that has thrived at Oxford since the late 19th century. The University’s museums and libraries have always played a crucial role in this path of discovery, preserving rich records of the poet’s reception and the ongoing vitality of his readerly appeal. The recent exhibition of items from the Sackler and Taylor Institution libraries, ‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy’, was exemplary in this respect. Curated by Professor Gervase Rosser and Clare Hills-Nova with items from Bodleian Libraries collections (principally, Sackler Library and Taylor Institution Library), the display reflected the depth and eclecticism of the visual tradition held by the University, from the intricately illuminated pages of fourteenth-century manuscripts to the neo-expressionist lithographs produced by contemporary artist Mimmo Paladino of the recent centenary year.

Presided over by the Taylorian’s august bust of Dante, whose personal iconography is a topic of myth and debate, the exhibition showcased an array of colourful interpretations of the Comedy. What the poet himself might have made of this visual afterlife becomes an almost unavoidable area of speculation. In an apocryphal tale from the 1390s, the Florentine writer Franco Sacchetti imagines Dante vociferously defending his poem against misquotation by a blacksmith, exclaiming ‘I have no other craft, and you’re ruining it’ (Trecentonovelle, 114). As far as craft goes, the Comedy is very much a literary artefact, addressing its reader no less than fifteen times and frequently emphasising the ineffability of its own descriptions. What is a reader of Dante’s poem to make of visual renditions of his text?

Final year Italian Literature and Languages students from Pembroke, Merton and Wadham colleges turned their attention to this question, using their knowledge of Dante’s poem to examine the rich visual traditions on display in the Taylorian exhibition. Offering insights into the material history and visual details of some of the objects on display, Izzy, Joshua, Anna, Matt and Olivia explore the role of these illustrations as creative records of the poem’s reception, and offer reflections on why they are interested in reading Dante today.

Dante Exhibition Display Case
19th and 20th century illustrations showing works by John Flaxman (lower left), Giovanni Stradano (upper right), and Federico Zuccari (upper left)

Isobel Sanders (Merton College)

Milton Klonsky. Blake’s Dante: The Complete Illustrations to the Divine Comedy (New York: Harmony, 1980).

Klomsky presents Blake’s evocative set of drawings and engravings for Dante’s Comedy, commissioned by John Linnell who sought to provide inspiration for Blake’s creativity alongside some much-needed money towards the end of his life. Few are complete yet this doesn’t make the rest any less engaging. Rather, we are granted insight into Blake’s artistic process, imagining for ourselves what a ‘completed, coloured-in’ version might look like. The works hug the text closely, although Blake didn’t always agree with Dante’s politics, revealed through damning remarks to friends. Small deviations appear in his watercolours, too. The Angel at Purgatory’s entrance seems bored or miserable, his eyelids half-shut; in Blake’s representation of Inferno 14, fire burns upwards rather than falling downwards. Could this be an act of defiance against Dante’s choice of infernal punishment known as the contrapasso, whereby sinners experienced a form of retribution directly related to their sin, often in inverse form? Politics, theology, ideas about fortune and sexuality all add nuance to Blake’s paintings. For, after all, going from one art form to another can never enact an exact ‘translation’. Blake’s illustrations, while rooted in the Romantic era, conjure up the Renaissance – the faces have a touch of Botticelli, or perhaps da Vinci, about them. Imaginative, unsettling and profoundly beautiful, Blake’s drawings establish a dialogue not only with Dante but also with other illustrators, over borders and across centuries. A perusal of Klomsky’s book reveals just how re-presenting the work of another is itself an exegesis – an act of personal interpretation and subsequent production.

Joshua Lavorini (Pembroke College)

Dante Alighieri. Opere di Dante Alighieri: Dedicata alla sagra imperial maesta di Elisabetta Petrowna, imperatrice di tutte le Russie ec. ec. ec. dal conte Don Cristoforo Zapata de Cisneros. Illustrated by Francesco Fontebasso, Gaetano Zompini & others 1757)

This image shows Dante presenting his work to the doge of Venice. The regal stature of the doge may call to mind the exile Dante suffered during the last twenty years of his life, since he learned ‘the bitterness of foreign bread’ (‘come sa di sale / lo pane altrui,’ Par. XVII.58–59) and was always both privileged and humbled by the patronage of other courts. The position of the crown above the doge’s head may be significant: in Paradiso, Dante fantasises that one day ‘I will return a poet, and at the font where I was baptised I will take the crown’ (‘ritorneró poeta, e in sul fonte / del mio battesmo prenderó ‘l cappello,’ Par. XXV.8–9) but in this image, it is the doge, to whom the poet comes in humility, that wears the crown. The faces in the crowd also provoke some thought – why do those to the right seem to be looking upwards towards the sky? What are those on the left looking at? Only the doge seems to be looking directly at the Tuscan poet. The dedication of this edition to Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress of Russia from 1741 until her death in 1762, attests to the fact that that Dante’s presence in Russia grew in the eighteenth century. Boris Antonov tells us that Petrovna encouraged Ivan Shuvalov’s foundation of the Imperial Academy of Arts and financed the grandiose Baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in the Peterhof Palace. She was clearly very interested in the arts (she spoke French, Italian and German as well as Russian), so it should come as no surprise that she should be fond of Dante. Dante’s impact on Russian culture continued long after her death, leaving a mark on the nation’s poetic symbolism. One Russian writer who was deeply interested in Italy and, by extension, Dante, is Nikolai Gogol. His book Dead Souls, described by him as a poem (despite being written in prose form), was intended to be the first part, i.e., Inferno, (set in contemporary Russia) of his own Divine Comedy. Gogol died before finishing the trilogy, and in a Virgilian act of insanity, burned the second part of Dead Souls. As well as his imitation of classical precedents (he wanted to imitate the Odyssey and Homeric epics), Gogol shares with Dante the use of almost uncomfortable humour and criticism of corruption. Another Russian whose work includes reference to Dante is Tchaikovsky. His orchestral fantasia Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32 (1876) was inspired by an episode in Canto V of the Inferno. In his correspondence, Tchaikovsky frequently quoted lines from Inferno V ‘there is no greater sorrow than to recall moments of happiness in misery’ (‘Nessun maggior dolore / che ricordarsi del tempo felice / ne la miseria,’ Inf. V.121–23), drawing on the enduring pathos of Dante’s infernal lovers.

Dante Exhibition Display Case
Top Left: Landino’s and Vellutello’s combined commentary. Lower Right: Edition dedicated to Elisabetta Petrowna

Anna Zakonyi (Pembroke College)

Dante Alighieri, Cristoforo Landino, Alessandro Vellutello, La Comedia di Dante con l’espositione di Christoforo Landino, et di Alessandro Vellutello (Venice: Giovambattista Marchio Sessa et fratelli, 1564).

Landino and Vellutello’s combined commentary on Dante’s Divina Commedia was originally published in 1564 by the Venetian typographer Sessa, under the editorial supervision of Francesco Sansovino. Consisting of 28 introductory leaves and 392 leaves of commentary, this volume returns to the folio format of medieval tradition, incorporating woodcut illustrations from Marcolini’s Commedia (1544) and the two commentaries with citations of Dante’s poem. The illustrations, in contrast to previous iconographic tradition, act as a continuation of the commentaries, focusing particularly on the topography of Dante’s Afterlife. The combination of Landino and Vellutello’s commentaries on the Commedia (originally published in 1481 and 1544 respectively) is also novel, as it integrates two different approaches: Landino prioritises allegory whilst Vellutello focuses on meaning. Such innovation enjoyed public acclaim, and Sessa re-published the volume in 1578 and 1596 with minimal corrections. Of particular interest is the great authority given to Landino and Vellutello over Dante’s poem. Note, for example, how snippets of the Commedia are explained both by the ‘Argomento’ canto summary under the illustrations and by the double commentary which engulfs the terzine; this allows the commentators to guide the reader’s interpretation, reflecting medieval tradition whereby commentators largely assumed superiority over their subject texts. Considering Dante’s modern dominance within the Italian literary canon, such authority afforded to Landino and Vellutello intrigued me, with this hierarchical organisation – whereby the two commentators are, arguably, superior to the poet – what first drew me to the work. The combination of two commentaries, illustrations, and an extended introduction including a background on Dante’s Florence and his vocabulary, would have made this text an excellent guide to reading and understanding the poem. As a student of Italian myself, this insight into how Renaissance readers might have approached their study of Dante was what interested me most about the work.

Matthew Webb (Wadham College)

Lippmann, Friedrich. Zeichnungen von Sandro Botticelli zu Dante’s Goettlicher Komoedie: Nach den Originalen im K. Kupferstichkabinet zu Berlin (Berlin: G. Grote’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1887).

This facsimile of Botticelli’s original drawing from c. 1481–88 depicts the Terrace of Pride in canto X of Purgatorio. Botticelli’s drawings distinguished themselves from other fourteenth-century representations of Dante’s text in their presentation of a continuous narrative. Instead of focusing on a single incident in the canto, we are taken, like Dante, through the Terrace of Pride by Virgil, whose guiding arm indicates the chronology of the scene. First, we see Dante and Virgil emerging from a crevice in the bottom left. Then, having ascended onto the terrace itself, we see four separate scenes that move in a rightward direction. The first three of these, depicting Dante and Virgil gazing at marble engravings of biblical and pagan stories exemplifying humility, layer narratives within the main narrative of Dante and Virgil’s journey, mirroring the effect Dante creates in his text through ekphrastic descriptions of the engravings. In this way, Botticelli’s drawing captures the depth and complexity of Dante’s narrative, instead of presenting one static event. I find the astonishing level of detail intriguing, particularly the representation of marble engraving in the image, a virtuosic display of Botticelli’s own skill as a painter (and maybe also a sign of pride). The original was part of a wider collection of illustrations that were commissioned by the artist’s patron, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, which, when brought to sale in the late 19th century, were purchased by Friedrich Lippmann and placed in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin. This remarkably detailed set of facsimiles dates from around the time of the sale, an artefact in its own right.

Dante Exhibition Display Case
Left: MS. 8o It.3 (1395 ). Right: Dante’s ‘Terrace of Pride’ (Purgatorio X), as illustrated by Botticelli

Olivia Ganderton (Pembroke College)

Lippmann, Friedrich. Zeichnungen von Sandro Botticelli zu Dante’s Goettlicher Komoedie: Nach den Originalen im K. Kupferstichkabinet zu Berlin (Berlin: G. Grote’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1887).

Dante’s Purgatory I, as illustrated by Bottiicelli

Botticelli’s late fifteenth-century drawing for Purgatorio I, often thought to have been commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, piqued my interest specifically due to the challenge posed to the artist to portray both this particular canto and introduce the viewer to a whole new cantica, that of Purgatory. The drawing shows Dante and Virgil entering the realm of Purgatory, where they meet its guardian, Cato (the figure furthest right), who then advises Virgil to wash Dante clean of the filth from his journey through Hell. Moving right to left, the following elements of the canto are illustrated: Cato halts the poets and asks them their business; Virgil plucks grass to cleanse Dante; Virgil wraps reeds around Dante’s waist; a ship-full of new souls arrives on the shores of Purgatory. These events occur one after the other, yet Botticelli decides to include each moment simultaneously in his drawing, giving a sense of unity and circularity to this stage of the afterlife, whilst choosing to give each stage equal status. This continuity is further emphasised by his inclusion of the ship-full of souls furthest to the right that will be described in the second canto of Purgatory, offering a conceptual connection between the composition of the image and movement of the narrative in the text. 

 

 

 

Further Reading:

Antonov, Boris (2006). Russian Tsars. Saint Petersburg: Ivan Fiorodov Art Publishers.

Gombrich, E. H. (1979), ‘Giotto’s Portrait of Dante?’, The Burlington Magazine, 121.917: 471–483.

Parker, Deborah (2013), ‘Illuminating Botticelli’s Chart of Hell’, MLN, 128.1.

Ricci, Lucia Battaglia (2009), ‘Ai Margini del Testo: Considerazioni sulla Tradizione del “Dante illustrato”’, Italianistica, 38.2: 39–58.

Rosser, Geravse (2005), ‘Turning Tale into Vision: Time and the Image in the “Divina Commedia”’, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 48: 106–122.

Bringing Tokyo to the Sackler Library: Japanese Photobooks On Display

The Japanese Photobook and the Sackler Library Display

Above: Ninagawa Mika. Tokyo from Utsurundesu series (since 2018). Models: AMIAYA. (Exhibition poster for Tokyo: Art and Photography. Ashmolean Museum, 2021) Copyright Ninagawa Mika, courtesy the artist and Tomio Koyama Gallery

 

Accompanying the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition Tokyo: Art & Photography (29 July 2021 – 3 January 2022) a book display at the Sackler Library presents Japanese photobooks, books on Japanese photography and related exhibition catalogues. Over the coming weeks some of the Japanese photobooks held by the Sackler are on display (in the Ground Floor rotunda) for readers to take a closer look.

Works in the Bodleian Libraries’ collections (in particular, the Sackler Library and the Bodleian Japanese Library, or BJL) range from the 1965 book Why Mother Why, which features iconic photographer Hosoe Eikoh’s works, to multi-media artist Tokyo Rumando’s exhibition booklet from 2020. In her first European museum solo show, Tokyo Rumando presented her self-portrait photographs and films.

 

Takano Ryudai photobooks on display at the Ashmolean Museum. Credit: Dr Lena Fritsch

Since the end of the Second World War, Japan has dominated the international camera industry through companies such as Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Sony or Pentax (previously Asahi). Supported by these companies, responsible for creating some of the best cameras, lenses and films in the world, photo galleries such as Fuji Salon or Canon Salon have hosted short-term exhibitions. Amateur photography clubs promote competitions, exhibitions and periodicals. Asahi Camera, founded in 1926 by the Asahi Newspaper Company, is the voice of the All-Japan Association of Photographic Societies (AJAPS, Zennihon Shashin Renmei) and is the country’s oldest photography magazine. It presents photographs, evaluations of equipment and exhibition reviews. Another popular magazine, Nippon Camera, has existed since 1951. The internet now provides access to images and texts, but until recently, photo magazines were a crucial source of information on photography, including works from overseas. Photography in Japan has developed into a web of camera companies, clubs, galleries, publishers, magazines and online platforms. More than an important industry, it also is a socio-cultural system based on countless photographers and camera fans, creating a vast number of high-quality images. This ‘photography world’ is a parallel system to the ‘art world’ in Japan, which has also produced important photographic works.

Range of Photobooks on display at the Tokyo exhibition. Credit: Dr Lena Fritsch

 

Moriyama Daidō’s photobooks (Record, edited by Mark Holburn; and Daido Moriyama: the World through my Eyes, edited by Filippo Maggia)

The photobook has become central to the development of Japanese photography, particularly since the post-war years. Considering Japan’s long tradition of making high-quality paper and books, as well as the lack of photography exhibition and storage space in densely populated Japanese cities, the popularity of the photobook is not surprising. Even today, for many photographers the photobook remains the ultimate format in which to present their works. Iconic photobooks by Fukase Masahisa, Araki Nobuyoshi or Kawada Kikuji continue to inspire younger artists worldwide. Over the last 30 years there has been a growing interest in Japanese photography, both within and outside of Japan, which has resulted in an increasing number of exhibitions. Japanese photobooks have also become sought-after internationally.

Tokyo has been a major motif in Japanese photography, ranging from Kimura Ihei’s post-war documentation to Moriyama Daidō’s dynamic snapshots of his Shinjuku neighbourhood, Araki Nobuyoshi’s diaristic Ginza photographs and Ninagawa Mika’s colourful images of her urban life. The number of photographs is endless, and Tokyo as a motif and shooting location is as varied as the city itself. While ‘truly copying’ the outside world (as the Japanese term for photography ‘shashin’ suggests), Japanese photography has developed from a ‘realist’ approach in the early post-war years to a free form of expression often intertwined with photographers’ lives and subjective experiences. Tokyo in photography has had many faces and no doubt it will continue to change, develop and re-imagine itself in the future. Perhaps the most engaging photographs of Tokyo, however, will continue to be linked to the photographers’ lives and inner visions.

Japanese Photobooks and photographs of Tokyo at the Ashmolean Museum. Credit: Dr Lena Fritsch

The Sackler Library’s book display seeks to provide a ‘taster’ of the diversity of Japanese photography, featuring well-known names, such as Araki and Moriyama, as well as younger female practitioners who are less well-known internationally, including Nagashima Yurie, Tonomura Hideka, and Tokyo Rumando. I hope that the display will inspire staff and students alike, reflecting both the quality of Japanese photography and the importance of the photobook as an artistic object in its own right. The work of many of these photographers has not yet been researched enough. The display runs during the course of Michaelmas term 2021, and beyond, and we invite you to take a closer look at the books!

Dr. Lena Fritsch
Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Ashmolean Museum

Sackler books on show in the Ashmolean exhibition

The Sackler Library has lent three publications to the Ashmolean exhibition:

Kimura Ihei. Tokyo: Fall of 1945. Tokyo: Bunka-sha, 1946

Sohei Nishino. Tokyo. Tokyo: Amana, 2015 (A diorama photographic map Tokyo)

Tsuzuki Kyoichi. Satellite of Love: Vanishing Beauty of Japanese ‘Love hotels’ . Tokyo: Asupekuto, 2001

Preparing the Display: My Personal Perspective as a Graduate Library Trainee

Sackler Library poster for the Japanese Photobook display

 

When I was asked to put together this display, I – of course – jumped at the opportunity. Since opening up to more readers (post-Covid), and reinstating its New Books Display, the Sackler Library is gradually returning to the bustle of its pre-Covid years. The Ashmolean’s advertising for the Tokyo exhibition is hard to miss: visitors to and passers-by the museum can see Ninagawa Mika’s bright photograph of two young women bowing their pink fringes towards each another, one of them adorned by a dazzling ‘Gucci’ clip (see above). I pass the Ashmolean poster daily, on my walk to work, and it never fails to catch my eye. Welcoming new and returning readers to the Sackler Library with a connected display seemed perfect timing. This post is a small insight into the process of setting up my first book display, and all I learned along the way.

Tokyo photobook display, Sackler Library

I set about gathering the list of Tokyo photobooks held by the Sackler Library, compiled by the Ashmolean exhibition’s co-curator, Dr Lena Fritsch. Once all the books were assembled, I quickly learned that Japanese photography does not comprise only colour images of vibrant scenes of Tokyo’s nightlife as represented in the exhibition’s poster. Leafing through For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, I found countless greyscale shots. Without colour, the pictures are still remarkably expressive.

Spread from Oh! Shinjuku from For a new world to come: experiments in Japanese art and photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

One of my preferred spreads from For a New World to Come is Shomei Tomatsu’s Oh! Shinjuku series (1969). These images show scenes of student protestors and railway passengers alongside moments from Tokyo nightlife. One of the most famous photos in the series, of a protestor clashing with the police, particularly stands out. Apparently, students had told Tomatsu about the protest (and the protestor’s) location, allowing the photographer to capture the moment. Through creating this display, I learned about the ‘are-bure-boke’ style: here, pictures are grainy or out-of-focus, just like Tomatsu’s shot. Its blurry look really captures the fast-moving pace of 1960s Tokyo: the student seems to glide through the air, showing you don’t always need bright colours to grasp the chaos of a place in time.

Looking at these images, you can see lots of parallels with other displayed books. We also have the works of Daidō Moriyama. In his introduction to Daido Moriyama (Tate, 2012) Simon Baker describes Moriyama as ‘one of Japan’s most important and influential photographers and photobook makers’, capturing the world since 1964. Inside, the book is undeniably varied – with a colour photography selection towards the end. Still, you cannot miss the familiar, blurred greyscale images throughout the book. In 1968, Moriyama joined a group called Provoke, and their eponymous magazine, where are-bure-boke was the trademark style. So, even by skimming photobooks, you can see a typical documentation style for 1960s Tokyo. As a staff member with no formal training in art history, there is something very satisfying about identifying themes and trends with a layman’s eye!

Cover of Daido Moriyama, edited by Simon Baker. 2012. Tate Publishing

When I was organising the display I came across more than 1960s photography. For example, Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows (2015) includes works 1976-2007; her work is fascinating, ranging from shots of apartments to close-up images of human hands and skin. I decided to group photobooks covering a longer span of time together, for readers who want to delve deeper into the world of Japanese photography and see how it has evolved over time. (These groupings have now merged, as readers view and rearrange the books on display.)

The display also includes books normally housed in our offsite facility. Readers familiar with the Bodleian Libraries’ collections will know that we hold many, many books. Despite the plethora of libraries around Oxford, we cannot keep all of them in our onsite collections and a vast number are stored offsite. Books returned temporarily to onsite include, for example, other publications on Moriyama, as well as other artists’ photobooks.

Once all the books had arrived safely at the Sackler, I began putting up the display. With the exception of giving a helping hand during my work experience at a primary school, this was almost entirely new territory. Fortunately, the photobooks contain beautiful, powerful and intriguing images, which guided me in arranging the display. After a period of adjusting the table arrangements, the display was good to go.

Nobuyoshi Araki: Tokyo Still Life. 2001

 

When I was deciding where to place the books, there were two especially important points for me. Firstly, I knew I wanted to have a spread of books open: the display is, after all, about photography! Choosing which spread to have open was more difficult: I turned page after page, looking for the most (to me) compelling images. I eventually chose two photos from Nobuyoshi Araki: Tokyo Still Life, which show four young boys in conversation, and a striking woman sitting back and staring the camera down. To me, her gaze almost invites you in to look further at the books. (That said, our readers have enjoyed looking at the display since it went on show, and one of them subsequently changed the pages to display a sleeping cat. This is, of course, entirely welcome in the library. Our books are for readers to handle.)

Tokyo Rumando. The Story of S, 2020

Secondly, although all our books are available pick up and consider, I wanted Tokyo Rumando’s 2020 exhibition booklet to be particularly accessible. This is the most recent work on display, and by lesser-known female artist. I particularly wanted to encourage display browsers to engage with newer artists, to bring home how the world of Japanese photography world has evolved to present day. If you flick through her booklet, her work is a captivating story of female empowerment: between shots of women of all ages, clothes, and poses, she emerges as one of my new favourite creators. I hope everyone considering the display finds it as insightful as I did.

Izzie Salter
Graduate Library Trainee, Sackler Library

 

 

 

 

References

Gyewon Kim. ‘Paper, photography, and a reflection on urban landscape in 1960s Japan’. Visual Resources 32:3-4 (2016): 230-246

Sarah Boxer ‘Japan Torqued, Melted, Reconfigured’. New York Times 12 September 2004

Reading List

Eikō Hosoe and Mark Holborn. Ordeal by Roses: Photographs of Yukio Mishima. New York: Aperture, 1985

Black Sun: the Eyes of Four: Roots and Innovation in Japanese Photography. Edited by Mark Holborn. New York: Aperture, 1986

Daido Moriyama: Record, edited by Mark Holborn. London: Thames and Hudson, 2017

Daido Moriyama, edited by Simon Baker. London: Tate, 2012

Daido Moriyama: Tales of Tono Translated by Lena Fritsch. London: Tate, 2012

For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2015

Daido Moriyama: the World through my Eyes. Edited by Filippo Maggia. Milan/London: Skira/Thames and Hudson, 2010

Lena Fritsch. Ravens & Red Lipstick: Japanese Photography since 1945. London: Thames and Hudson, 2018.

Nobuyoshi Araki. Araki: Tokyo Lucky Hole. Cologne/London: Taschen, 1997

Nobuyoshi Araki: Tokyo Still Life. Birmingham: Icon Gallery, 2001

Emphatic and Uncompromising: Kitai Kazuo’s Photography. Tokyo: Yumiko Chiba Associates, 2019

Provoke: between Protest and Performance, Photography in Japan 1960/1975. Edited by Diane Dufour & Matthew S. Witkovsky. Gottingen: Steidl, 2016

Hiromi Tsuchida. Fukushima: 2011-2017, Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, 2018

Shomei Tomatsu. Chewing Gum and Chocolate. Edited by Leo Rubinfien & John Junkerman, New York: Aperture, 2014

Naito Masatoshi: Another World Unveiled. Edited by Tetsurō Ishida & Satomi Fujimura. Tokyo: Tōkyō-to Shashin Bijutsukan, 2018

Sato Tokihiro: Presence or Absence. Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2014

Nagashima Yurie and a Pinch of Irony with a Hint of Love. Tokyo Museum of Photographic Art, 2017
Amanda Maddox and others. Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015

Yutaka Takanashi. Toshi-e / Towards the City. New York: Errata, 2010

Hitomi Watanabe. Tōdai zenkyōtō 1968 1969.Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 2007

The Founding and Development of Modern Photography in Japan. Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1995

Japan’s Modern Divide: the Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto. Edited by Judith Keller and Amanda Maddox. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013

Hiroshi Hamaya. Senzō zanzō: shashin taiken 60nen. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1991

TOP Collection: Tokyo Tokyo and TOKYO. Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Tokyo: Case Publishing, 2016

Emerging from Pandemic Purgatory: Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy

Taylor Institution Library, View from St Giles’
Above: Taylor Institution Library, View from St Giles’

This post originally appeared on the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainee Blog and is republished with permission of the author.

*****

Sadly, for many of us, the last eighteen months have seen the cancellation, curtailment and delay of countless celebrations, including birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and achievements. At the very least, we’ve been forced to relocate those festivities online and connect with family and friends via laptops and phone screens in a kind of digital limbo.

Re-emerging into the real world from this pandemic-induced Purgatory, I recently returned to Oxford, a city that I’d previously called home for many years. My arrival overlapped with many of the restrictions of the last year and a half being (cautiously) rolled back. As the new Graduate Trainee at the Taylor Institution Library (known colloquially as the ‘Taylorian’), my first week saw the steady disappearance of one-way systems, sign-in slots and restricted access for readers to many of the library’s more intimate spaces.

Taylor Institution Library, Aerial View
Above: Taylor Institution Library, Aerial View (2008)

Like the Bodleian Libraries more broadly, many institutions and historical personages have also found their usual cycles of anniversaries and commemorations disrupted by lockdown measures and restrictions on large gatherings. Excitingly, the prospect of more freedom for staff and readers at the University of Oxford has coincided with another cause for celebration: the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), the great Italian poet and philosopher. As a result, the Taylor Institution Library, Weston Library and the Ashmolean Museum have prepared three exhibitions of works from among the libraries’ and museum’s many and varied holdings, which provide visions of, and insights into, the author’s most famous work, the Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia). Works from the Taylorian’s collections are included in the Ashmolean and Weston displays. The Taylorian exhibition, ‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy’, meanwhile, also draws upon the collections of the Sackler Library, Oxford’s principal research location for the study of visual culture. Alongside my regular duties at the library (with which I’m slowly familiarising myself), I’ve been fortunate enough to join Clare Hills-Nova (Librarian in Charge, Sackler Library, and Subject Librarian for Italian Literature and Language at the Taylorian) and Professor Gervase Rosser, curatorial lead on all three Oxford Dante exhibitions, in their preparations for the display of prints, manuscripts and illustrated books spanning the seven hundred years since Dante’s passing.

Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford
Above: Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford (Architect C. R. Cockerell, 1841-45)

The photos provided here offer a window on the range of texts and images that were chosen for the Taylorian exhibition and the process that went into preparing them for public display. I came into that process after Clare and Gervase had agreed on the works to be included and their gathering from the Taylorian’s rare books and manuscript holdings and other library locations was complete. The exhibition handlist includes an introduction to the works on display as well as a list of works they considered for inclusion.

Together, Clare and I spent an afternoon preparing the exhibition space – among the already impressive holdings of the library’s Voltaire Room.

Taylor Institution Library, Voltaire Room
Above: Taylor Institution Library, Voltaire Room (ca. 2010)

A provisional placement of the exhibits according to the chronological layout agreed by Clare and Gervase gave us a sense of how the various prints, manuscripts and books would fit within the display cases.

Working with a number of old and rare editions – including some of the oldest books that I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand during my time in Oxford – required careful handling and the use of foam rests and ‘snakes’ (long, cotton-wrapped metal ‘beads’ designed to hold open books). Clare has a background in conservation, so provided an experienced eye and guiding hand throughout the process.

Open exhibition display case pictured with box of foam rests
Above: Preparing the display cases

After this initial test-run of the display cases, I was tasked with assisting in the preparation of a bibliography to provide visitors to the exhibition with a comprehensive list of texts on display, and those consulted during the curation process. This not only gave me an excellent opportunity to re-familiarise myself with the Bodleian Libraries’ SOLO (‘Search Oxford Libraries Online’) catalogue, but required some further detective work to collect the full details of some of the more obscure texts included in the exhibition.

Although I’m familiar with this kind of work from my time researching and writing Russian history, and searching for texts catalogued in various forms of transliterated Cyrillic, the preparations for this exhibition included consideration of works in Italian, French and German too. Exploiting the automatic citation tool provided on the SOLO also exposed the potential drawback of relying on technology alone. Each of these languages inevitably has its own bibliographic conventions for the formatting of references (authors, titles, publishing info, etc.), not all of which are captured by auto-generation of citations. Obviously, I still have plenty to learn on that front being based in one of Oxford’s key research centres for modern languages and linguistics!

Open display case with selection of illustrated books
Above: Testing the layout of the exhibits within the display case

The whole process also brought home how inconsistent and incomplete some of the catalogue descriptions are within the Bodleian Libraries’ older collections and more unique items. This is quite the mountain to climb for those librarians faced with such a vast (and ever expanding) number of books, journals, periodicals and other ephemera in every language under the sun.

One particular exhibit of note is shown below:

Title page of Italian edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy dedicated to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia
Above: A copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy dedicated to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia (daughter of Peter the Great). Published in Venice, Italy in 1757

It was wonderful to find such a striking connection between the history of Imperial Russia and Dante’s life and work!

The second set of photos below provides a view of the final layout for each display case. Supporting information to be included alongside the works was still being prepared at the time of taking, but a sense of the diversity of images and lasting influence of Dante’s work on artists, writers, print-makers and publishers across the world is evident already.

 

Students, faculty and staff from across the University are welcome to visit the Taylorian’s exhibition during library opening hours, from the beginning of Michaelmas term through December 2021. The parallel exhibitions marking Dante’s centenary celebrations are on display for a similar period: Ashmolean Museum (17 September 2021 – 9 January 2022) and Weston Library (8 September 2021 – 14 November 2021), which will give everyone interested in the life, history and influence of Dante the opportunity to explore the wider collections of the University.

Further Oxford Dante events, ranging from concerts to film screenings, to lectures and (of course!) at least one book launch celebrating the 700th anniversary are planned for autumn 2021.

Having now had an insight into the complexities involved in preparing, curating and displaying materials from our impressive Dante collections, the chance to come face-to-face with these exhibits sounds like Paradiso itself!

If you want to know more about Dante-related holdings in Oxford, please check out the Taylorian’s earlier blog posts in this regard (linked below):

Listening to Dante: An Audio-visual Afterlife

The Image of Dante, the Divine Comedy and the Visual Arts, Part I

The Image of Dante, the Divine Comedy and the Visual Arts: Part II

Malcolm L. G. Spencer

Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

Sackler 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part III

 

In my previous post, I touched on some great discoveries in the Haverfield Archive. This collection consists of correspondence, coloured prints and drawings illustrating mosaic pavements, site plans and publication extracts – an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia, housed at the Sackler Library. I described the process of recording, illustrating and publishing the mosaics. This post considers the people who undertook these processes and how they approached Roman history.

Generally, the people who took an extraordinary interest in the classical past during the 18th and 19th centuries were called antiquarians. Antiquarians tended to be male, middle class or of the aristocracy, and well educated. Indeed, the discipline of archaeology in Britain started out as more or less the past-time of elite gentlemen who sought to build upon their collections of antiquities. For example, the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne (1737-1805) was an avid collector of works of art, including paintings and classical sculptures. Lansdowne employed the Adam Brothers, renowned architects, to redesign the principal rooms at Bowood House (a Grade I Georgian country house in Wiltshire), including a large drawing room. The Haverfield Archive holds two preparatory illustrations, by the architect Joseph Bonomi (1739-1808), of a carpet design for this room, dated 1785 (Inventory n. 1.1 and Inventory n. 1.2). In 1767, Bonomi was invited by the Adam Brothers to work as a draughtsman for them in their London Office. Bonomi left the Brothers’ employ in 1781 and established himself as an independent architect. He began to receive commissions from some of his patrons including Heneage Finch, fourth earl of Aylesford. Presumably, Bonomi was also commissioned to decorate the interior of Bowood House.

Joseph Bonomi. Carpet design for Bowood House (Inventory n. 1.1)

 

The design of the carpet is intriguing as it seems to be heavily influenced by Roman mosaic pavements. Bonomi was revered as a leader in the revival of Grecian architecture. The ‘Orpheus’ mosaic pavement found at Littlecote Park, Wiltshire (Inventory n. 1.5 A) is similar to Bonomi’s carpet design as both have a central panel for the eye to gravitate towards. Bonomi’s design features a centaur roundel (also detailed separately in Inventory n. 1.2), while the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic features its namesake with his lyre.

‘Orpheus’ mosaic discovered at Littlecote Park (Inventory n. 1.5 A)

 

Whilst Bonomi’s design certainly borrows stylistic aspects from Roman mosaics, it is ultimately neoclassical in approach and is simpler regarding its colour palette and detail. The design was undertaken with a rich connoisseur in mind such as the Marquess of Lansdowne. I have so far been unable to find a mention of this particular carpet in the literature, so it is unclear whether the design was ever realised. Eventually, the Marquess’s lavish spending on his properties caught up with him. With his estate declared bankrupt, it is possible that the carpet never physically existed.

Carpet derived from the Stonesfield mosaic. Early 18thC (Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock)

Sometimes, reproductions of mosaic floors were created in textile format. It is unclear what the motivations were behind this. It may have been that some antiquarians wanted to decorate their properties with a reproduction of the mosaic that was found on their land. Upon the discovery of the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic, William George, steward to the owner of Littlecote House and Park, made coloured drawings of it. George died not long afterwards and from the drawings he made, his widow made a complete needlework reproduction in full colour, and the tapestry was hung in Littlecote House. The ‘Bacchus’ mosaic discovered at Stonesfield in 1712 (discussed in my previous post) was also recreated in textile form — as a large (3m, approx.) early 18th century needlework carpet, as described by Herefordshire antiquary, scholar and linguist William Brome (1664-1745) (see Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000). This carpet exerted a considerable influence on contemporary tastes. Due to the popular fascination for collecting antiquities, neoclassical styles were fashionable and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, mosaic-style carpets were the height of interior design fashion. A by-product of this fashion was that embroidered tapestry and carpet reconstructions of mosaic pavements often became the only surviving records after the destruction of the mosaics themselves.

The problem with relying on reproductions is that they can reveal little about the actual state, as discovered, of the original mosaics. Most prints in the Haverfield Archive depict fully intact mosaics with bright, vivid colours. The reality of finding such an example in this condition is very unlikely. Pigments fade and mosaics were/are often discovered in fragments. Some publications like Henry Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae (1852) described the mosaics’ state of preservation when originally excavated. Two of the plates listed in this volume and showing the state of the originals, as found, are not of mosaics but of painted wall plaster (Inventory n. 1.7 and Inventory n. 1.17 B). Smith describes these as ‘fragments’ of plaster, with ‘some found still adhering’ to a building’s original structure. Some damage was inflicted due to ‘atmospheric influences, crumbled away after the lapse of a couple of winters’. 

 

 

Presumably, the patron, Aldborough patron, Andrew Lawson, acted swiftly to preserve the existing fragments as they were brought into the museum established in the grounds of Aldborough Manor in 1863. Given the rich history underpinning Aldborough’s ‘Orpheus’ mosaic, questions have arisen regarding the accuracy of illustrations that were made. Original drawings of the mosaic have now been lost, while engravings made by George Vertue are thought to be somewhat inaccurate. A lack of a consistent discovery and preservation methodology at many sites – for example, Stonesfield – meant that records were not kept in a systematic order. As a result, errors in illustrations were inevitable. Although sites such Aldborough promoted a ‘drive’ among antiquarians to produce more detailed, archaeological records, prints of Roman mosaics were not intended to be scientifically accurate. Instead, they appeared to function as aesthetically pleasing ‘reproductions’ of Roman art.

Despite this, Sarah Scott (2013) has pointed out how the antiquarian and engraver Samuel Lysons (1763-1819) did not ‘repair’ flaws in his engravings of mosaics, clearly showing the state of the original. One example of Lysons’ work is the floor plan of an excavation site at Weldon, Northamptonshire (Inventory n. 1.3), and illustrates how Lysons decided to depict the mosaics in their fragmentary form.

Samuel Lysons. Excavation site plan, Weldon (Inventory 1.3)

 

This work was quite unusual for the time, as mosaics were typically drawn as complete, pristine works, the inferences made from partial remains. Amongst antiquarians there was a view that the accuracy of archaeological illustrations reflected the overall quality of the excavation. For example in 1916, J. Charles Cox compared the engravings of a mosaic found at Roxby, Lincolnshire. The earliest engraving was completed in 1799 by William Fowler (Inventory n. 2.15), followed much later by Cary Elwes in 1873. Focusing more on the archaeological properties of the engravings, Cox held that Elwes’s version was ‘more accurately engraved and coloured’ than Fowler’s. From a 21st century perspective, it can be safely said that the prints are definitely not scientific reconstructions. Yet it must be recognised that there were at least some efforts made by antiquarians to produce ‘accurate’ records.

William Fowler. Pavement mosaic, Roxby (Inventory n. 2.15)

Many of the excavations which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries can be viewed as methodologically crude by modern standards. Since that time, archaeological practices have changed in order to reduce the damage done when excavating. However, records which include prints of mosaics are vital as they are often all that remain from an antiquarian excavation. Rich discoveries stimulated further interest and subsequent research, thus helping to shape archaeology as the discipline we know today. The main reason for the growing interest in British archaeology was the Industrial Revolution, as infrastructural expansion revealed more archaeological discoveries. This helped fuel a desire to live up to European collecting and connoisseurship practices against the backdrop of a shared Classical heritage and growing nationalism. Excavations across Europe were busy, churning out discoveries at sites like Herculaneum and Pompeii, further intensifying national rivalries. At the foreground of the period was the European conflict, with the Napoleonic Wars resulting in restrictions on travel. In order to stay current and fashionable, the average Georgian gentleman had little choice but to focus his attention on British antiquities.

Members of the Society of Antiquaries had an interest in all things Roman Britain. They perceived Roman remains as a tangible link between the British and Roman Empires. In my previous post, I discussed how the Society was very much interested in mosaics, and at Cotterstock they commissioned George Vertue to produce an engraving based on William Bogdani’s drawing of it. This active interest demonstrated an acute attention to British archaeological discoveries when, in 1739, the Society made a decision to compile a list of all Roman mosaics discovered in Britain. Despite this enthusiasm, a collective approach to the study of archaeology was not yet fully realised. Britain did not pass any heritage protection legislation until the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act. There was not even a gallery of national antiquities in the British Museum until the 1850s. Instead, antiquarians acted individually, developing the significance of their own sites, linking them to the glory of imperial Rome.

Antiquarians such as Andrew Lawson at Aldborough funded excavations and publications. In the Haverfield Archive, Lawson is cited as the patron on several prints of mosaics from Aldborough. Henry Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae was dedicated to Lawson and he was credited with procuring most of the illustrations and keeping accurate records of recent discoveries. In an article in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ (Nichols 1853), Lawson was considered to be in ‘high estimation among antiquaries’. It was reported by the magazine that when the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland held their annual meeting at York in 1846, they were ‘entertained by Mr Lawson’ at Aldborough. Lawson was not alone in such activities. In 1807, Colonel Leigh of Combe Hay ordered a Roman mosaic to be uncovered at Wellow, in Somerset, purely for the amusement of his friends and those interested in antiquities. What made Lawson different from Colonel Leigh, however, was that his motivation for uncovering the mosaics at Aldborough was to preserve them and to provide systematic documentation.

Whilst there were rich, well-meaning antiquarians such as Lawson, there were also enterprising engravers like William Fowler (1761-1832). The print of Roxby’s pavement mosaic (Inventory n. 2.15) mentions one ‘Jas. Barber’ as its creator; in fact, it was engraved by Fowler, who, in 1799, published his print for sale at half a guinea. He was very much a business man in terms of producing plates, quickly realising that if he was to make any money out of publishing, he had to sell prints at a high price. As a result of Fowler’s entrepreneurship, he acquired supporters who subscribed to standing orders for every print he published, including the libraries of two Oxford colleges. Because prints were produced individually and were not published as part of a single large volume, Fowler announced his new prints by means of printed prospectuses. The Haverfield Archive includes a few excerpts from a similar prospectus by Henry Ecroyd Smith. The page details illustrations one could order from H. Ecroyd Smith’s Lithographs of Romano-British Tessellated Pavements (Inventory n. 2.9). Acquiring prints from such publication lists appealed to antiquarians who wished to showcase their interests to their like-minded, erudite friends.

Volumes discussing excavations with detailed illustrations of archaeological discoveries were produced, but they were costly undertakings, affordable only to the elite. Indeed, one of the subscribers to Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae was listed as ‘HRH Prince Albert’, indicating that excavations at Aldborough were dependant on subscribers and patronage. Support from those who could afford it was highly valued as the cost of producing lavishly illustrated volumes was high. Due to the huge expense involved in production, publishers were also highly selective as to the volumes that they chose to support. Subscribers were willing to pay up to several guineas for a publication whose textual content they were not necessarily interested in reading so long as it was well illustrated with engravings. Mosaic pavements were attractive to Georgian and Victorian gentlemen because they served as a link to a Roman era of wealth and grandeur. Despite this (and doubtless due to their cost), such publications were not necessarily widely circulated. Thomas Hearne recorded that his volume on the Stonesfield mosaic consisted of only 120 copies, with successive editions issued in similarly small numbers. As a result, information about and images of the mosaic were only accessible to a privileged few.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, archaeology was still in its infancy as a discipline. Whilst there were keen antiquarians who were motivated to provide what they viewed as systematic and accurate records of archaeological sites, methodologies were still being developed. Some antiquarians were influenced purely by the fashion for collecting antiquities and lavishly decorating their properties with them, less so by historical-archaeological documentation. Efforts regarding the preservation of archaeological discoveries were undertaken by individuals, not groups. Publications were not widely circulated and appeared to be available only to rich, erudite individuals. It is clear, however, that many of the prints preserved in the Haverfield Archive provided the only surviving documentation of original mosaics. Following their discovery, many mosaic pavements were readily destroyed or reburied, with their exact sites lost from social memory. Although the illustrations are often inaccurate or have been exaggerated it is important that they be preserved for future study and research.

Next time, in the final post of this series, I will be looking at the man responsible for the archive, Francis Haverfield himself. I will examine why he and his associates decided to collect prints of Roman mosaics, and consider his motivations and the future projects he may have had in mind.

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

References

Alexander, David. 2003. Antiquity at half a guinea. Country Life Archive Vol 197 (11) https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1513164349?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo&imgSeq=1

Challands, A, Hall, J, Jackson, R, Peacock, D, Upex, S and Wild, FC. 2011. The Praetorium of Edmund Artis: A Summary of Excavations and Surveys of the Palatial Roman Structure at Castor, Cambridgeshire 1828-2010. Britannia, Vol 42, 23-112.

Cox, CJ. 1916. Lincolnshire. London: Methuen

Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000. From Stone to Textile: The Bacchus Mosaic at Stonesfield, Oxon, and the Stonesfield Embroidery. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 153:1, 1-29.

Fielden, K. 2016. Bowood Revisited. Chippenham: CPI Antony Rowe

Hingley, Richard. The recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: a colony so fertile. 2008. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Hoare, R. 1821. IV. An Account of a Stone Barrow, in the Parish of Wellow, at Stoney Littleton in the County of Somerset, which was opened and investigated in the Month of May 1816. Archaeologia: or Miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity, 1770-1992. Society of Antiquarians of London. Vol 19, 43-55

Meadows, P. 2004. Bonomi Joseph [formerly Giuseppe] (1739-1808). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press 

Millett, M. 2015. Roman Britain since Haverfield. In M. Millett, L. Revell and A. Moore (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mitford, J. 1846. Antiquarian Researches. Chatto & Windus

Nichols, J. 1853. Andrew Lawson Esq. The Gentleman’s Magazine: and historical review, July 1856-May 1868, Jun 1853. 657-658

Scott, S. 2014. Britain in the classical world: Samuel Lysons the art of Roman Britain 1780-1820. Classical Receptions Journal. Vol 6, No 2, 294-337

Scott, S. 2013. Samuel Lysons and His Circle: Art, Science and the Remains of Roman Britain. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 23 (2)

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1852. Reliquiae Isurianae: the remains of the Roman Isurium (now Aldboroug, near Boroughbridge, Yorkshire). London. Sold by Russell I Smith. Printed by William Hilton, 3, Upper Wellington Street, Strand.

Sweet, R. 2001. Antiquaries and Antiquities in Eighteenth-Century England. Eighteenth Century Studies. Vol 34, No 2, 181-206

Toynbee, JMC. 1981. Apollo, Beasts and Seasons: Some Thoughts on the Littlecote Mosaic. Britannia. Vol. 12 1-5

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Sackler 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part II

Part 1 of this series of blog posts introduced the Haverfield Archive, held at the Sackler Library. This collection consists of correspondence, coloured prints and drawings illustrating mosaic pavements, site plans and publication extracts – an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia associated with Francis Haverfield (1860-1919), Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford and seen as the chief expert on Roman Britain at the start of the 20th century. The image collection comprises largely prints and a few hand-drawn sketches of Roman floor mosaics discovered during the 18th and 19th centuries. I decided to take on the task of creating the first index to this material so that its research potential would become clear. In November last year, I began indexing material. With each new document came a new discovery. As a former archaeologist, I found working with the archive a cleaner but just as incredible experience as uncovering forgotten objects through excavation. In total, I recorded around 50 images and associated documents, only a small fraction of the collection.

For Part 2 of this series of blog posts, I will focus on three archaeological sites: Aldborough, Cotterstock, and Stonesfield. The reason why I will discuss these sites in particular is because the majority of documents which I have recorded so far depict mosaics discovered there. (Continuation of the cataloguing part of the project was affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, as physical access to materials was no longer possible.)

Aldborough

The first site is the village of Aldborough (Isurium Brigantum), North Yorkshire. One of the first mosaics to be discovered at the site was the so-called ‘Lion mosaic’ (Inventory n. 2.13). In 1832, the landlord of the Aldborough Arms decided to bury a dead calf at the end of his garden. The rest – as they say – is history. News of the discovery appears to have spread nationwide and in 1849 the Illustrated London News (20 January 1849) published a report. In his 1852 publication, Reliquiae Isurianae, Henry Ecroyd Smith recorded mosaics from Aldborough, including this mosaic. In the below image, damage to the central panel is shown. It is strongly suspected that the culprits were enthusiastic souvenir hunters as the Reliquiae Isurianae describes how the mosaic had become a local attraction. In response, the Duke of Newcastle erected a stucture over the mosaic as an attempt to preserve it. What is most interesting about the print from the Haverfield Archive, is that the mosaic is surrounded by further sketches of the Roman remains.

‘Lion mosaic’ (Inventory n. 213)
‘Star’ mosaic (Inventory n. 2.5)

 

 

Another mosaic, featuring a ‘star’ in the central panel, was discovered in 1846. This mosaic is deeply associated with Aldborough and its design is incorporated into the current Friends of Aldborough logo (have a look). Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae attests that news of the discovery of the mosaic spread rapidly throughout the community, as volunteer excavators joined the efforts to remove the ‘mass of rubble’. Andrew Lawson, the local landowner, erected a covering structure for the mosaic. Despite this, the mosaic remained exposed to weathering and was damaged by mould growth from the cold and damp conditions. The print is depicted in full colour and in very good condition. The patron behind the print was landowner Lawson. Other funders may have included the amateur archaeologist, Charles Roach Smith (1807-1890) and the antiquarian Albert Way (1805-1874). Ecroyd Smith expresses his gratitude for the support of these three men in his preface to the Reliquiae Isurianae. Lawson himself spent much of his time preserving the remains of Roman Aldborough, as well as making the first systematic collection of local archaeological finds. Funding publications like the Reliquiae Insurianae was well within his range of interests.   

Romulus and Remus mosaic (Inventory n. 1.4)

 

 

 

 

The final Aldborough mosaic that I’ll discuss here is the well-known ‘Romulus and Remus’ mosaic. It was discovered in 1834, and subsequently dug up by a local mason and removed to his cottage garden in Boroughbridge, where it became a central piece to the floor of a summerhouse. Fortunately, the Museum of the Philosophical and Literary Society of Leeds, subsequently incorporated into the Leeds City Museum, purchased the mosaic in 1863 where it remains preserved today. Due to its complicated provenance, there has been some discussion regarding the authenticity of the mosaic and some think that it was subjected to heavy Victorian restoration. Interestingly, the mosaic was not included in Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae.

Geometric mosaic (Inventory n. 1.6 A 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castor

Next, I draw your attention to a range of sites from across Northamptonshire. Several prints of mosaics discovered in the county appear to be from the same publication, The Durobrivae of Antoninus, published in 1828 by artist Edmund Artis (1789-1847). Artis carried out large-scale excavations in the county in the early 1820s. These included an investigation of the alleged Castor Praetorium, a monumental Roman building on the site of Castor’s parish church. Artis coined the term ‘Praetorium’ to suggest that the building not only had an administrative function but also implied a luxurious residence. Artis completed sketches of his finds and one of these is possibly Inventory n. 1.6 A 3, whose accompanying text describes its discovery on the north side of the churchyard.

 

Cotterstock

The Haverfield Archive also highlights similarities between a print (Inventory n. 1.6 A 1) from the Durobrivae of Antoninus and another (Inventory n. 3.1 1) from J. Nichols’s Vetusta Monumenta, a collection of images published under the Society of Antiquaries’ auspices. The two prints appear to be of the same mosaic but differ stylistically through radically different colour palettes and borders. The mosaic itself was discovered in a field in Cotterstock, in 1736, after being partially damaged by a plough. Locals from a nearby residence in Southwick, notably father and son, the George Lynns, as well as the artist William Bogdani (1699-1771), drew the mosaic. In 1737, Bogdani presented his drawing to the Society of Antiquaries. The Society commissioned George Vertue (1684-1756) to make an engraving from the drawing. Vertue was considered one of the best reproductive engravers in the country at that time. He had a strong reputation as an antiquary as well, and was appointed Engraver to the Society of Antiquaries in 1717. Vertue completed his engraving of the mosaic in 1737 and presented it to the Society. Edmund Artis used this print as a basis when he published the mosaic in his Durobrivae.

 

Inventory n. 1.9

 

 

As at Aldborough, preservation tactics such as covering up the Cotterstock mosaic did not deter souvenir hunters. The fourth Earl of Cardigan removed a large chunk of the mosaic and took it back to his residence at Deene Park. The Earl set the fragment into a centrepiece for the floor of a summerhouse. Whilst his intention was to preserve the mosaic, it did not survive.

Another, smaller mosaic was discovered at Cotterstock in 1798. The first engraving of it was made by William Fowler in 1802 (Inventory n. 1.9). In 1828, Edmund Artis also republished the mosaic in his Durobrivae.

 

 

 

 

Stonesfield

Finally, I will focus on prints which appear to depict the same mosaic found at Stonesfield, a village in Oxfordshire. While the mosaic was first discovered in 1711, in one account, by John Pointer in 1713, it is claimed that the mosaic was accidentally uncovered by a tenant farmer in a field called Chesthill Acres. News of the discovery soon reached Oxford, rousing the interest of local antiquarians. The tenant farmer, George Handes, proved himself to be a savvy businessman and began charging both an admission fee to view the mosaic and a further charge for drawing it. As always, souvenir hunters were eager to grab a keepsake. One fragment was given to the diarist and antiquarian Thomas Hearne (1744-1817), who worked in the library of St Edmund Hall and also at the Bodleian. Fragments, alongside images and written records, formed part of the supporting materials for lengthy discussions among groups such as the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society.

In his A discourse concerning to the Stunsfield tessellated pavement (1712) Thomas Hearne included an illustrated print of the Stonesfield mosaic. Hearne frequently visited the pavement; on his sixth visit he brought along the Dutch illustrator, Michael Burghers (1647-1727) who, from 1676, engraved the plates for the Almanacks of the University and whose objective was to draw the pavement accurately. In 1723, the Society of Antiquaries again commissioned George Vertue to produce an engraving. The finished product was very popular and was still on sale in 1757, 34 years after Vertue’s death. This print is essentially an enlargement of Burgher’s work and remains very faithful to its detail. In the Haverfield Archive, both Hearne and Vertue are credited with reproducing Inventory n. 1.12 and n. 1.16.

Hearne expressed his fears regarding the condition of the Stonesfield mosaic, as it was suffering from exposure to the elements. In 1716, there were rumours that the pavement had been destroyed. The mosaic had suffered badly from damage caused by souvenir hunters and poor preservation management. Over time, George Handes and his landlord increasingly argued over how profits gained from admission fees for viewing the mosaic were to be shared. In one incident, an argument between the pair allegedly ended with the tenant tearing the mosaic to pieces.

In 1779 digging in the area led to the mosaic’s accidental rediscovery. Although the extent of the damage inflicted by George Handes is unclear, the fact that the mosaic was still recognisable suggests that it had somewhat survived. The ensuing excavations received the patronage of the Duke of Marlborough, whose Blenheim estates lay nearby. A report was presented to the Society of Antiquaries in 1784, with a set of engravings of the mosaic by William Lewington. This is particularly interesting as the illustration in the Haverfield Archive is attributed not to Lewington, but to the self-taught engraver William Fowler (1761-1832). Just as George Vertue reproduced Michael Burgher’s earlier version of the mosaic, Fowler based his work directly on Lewington’s own engraving. In 1802, Fowler had the ground opened, finding part of the pavement in good condition. Eventually, however, in 1806, the Stonesfield mosaic was divided among three landowners, with the removal and destruction of the in situ mosaic recorded a year later.

My next post in this series will discuss the people who made these prints: The antiquarians. These rich, erudite and privileged individuals helped shape archaeology as the discipline that it is today.

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

References

Alexander, David. 2003. Antiquity at half a guinea. Country Life Archive Vol 197 (11) https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1513164349?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo&imgSeq=1 (accessed June 2020)

Artis, E.T. 1828. The Durobrivae of Antoninus : identified and illustrated in a series of plates, exhibiting the excavated remains of that Roman station, in the vicinity of Castor, Northamptonshire : including the mosaic pavements, inscriptions, paintings in fresco, baths, iron and glass furnaces, potters’ kilns, implements for coining, and the manufacture of earthen vessels, war and other instruments in brass, iron, ivory, &c. London

Bignamini, I. 1996. Vertue, George. Grove Art Online https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2995/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000089087 (accessed March 2020)

Castor Praetorium. Peterborough Archaeology https://peterborougharchaeology.org/peterborough-archaeological-sites/castor-praetorium/ (accessed March 2020)

Challands, A, Hall, J, Jackson, R, Peacock, D, Upex, S and Wild, FC. 2011. The Praetorium of Edmund Artis: A Summary of Excavations and Surveys of the  Palatial Roman Structure at Castor, Cambridgeshire 1828-2010. Britannia, Vol 42, 23-112.

Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000. From Stone to Textile: The Bacchus Mosaic at Stonesfield, Oxon, and the Stonesfield Embroidery. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 153:1, 1-29.

Friends of Roman Aldborough http://romanaldborough.co.uk/ (accessed March 2020)

Hearne, T. A discourse concerning to the Stunsfield tessellated pavement. With some new observations about the Roman inscription that relates to the Bath Fabrica, and an account of the custom of the mannor of Woodstock. July 11. 1712.

Hingley, Richard. The recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: a colony so fertile. 2008. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Hornbeck, EJ. Plate 1.48: Roman Pavement Found at Cotterstock. Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments, A Digital Edition https://scalar.missouri.edu/vm/vol1plate48-roman-pavement-cotterstock (accessed March 2020)  

Levine, J. 1978. The Stonesfield Pavement: Archaeology in Augustan England. Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol 11, No. 3. 340-361

Nichols, J. 1747. Vetusta monumenta: quae ad rerum Britannicarum memoriam conservandam Societas Antiquariorum Londini sumptu suo edenda curavit. Volumen primum. [-septimum]. London: Society of Antiquaries

Pointer, J. 1713. An account of a Roman pavement, lately found at Stunsfield in Oxfordshire, prov’d to be 1400 years old. Leonard Lichfield: Oxford Sculpture in Yew and other letters. Country Life Archive, 1959 Vol 126 720 https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1521510620?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo (accessed June 2020)

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1859. On a Romano-British Mosaic Pavement, representing Romulus and Remus, discovered at Aldborough (Isurium of the Romans). Proceedings of the Geological and Polytechnic Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 4, 593-604

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1852. Reliquiae Isurianae: the remains of the Roman Isurium (now Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, Yorkshire). London. Sold by Russell I Smith. Printed by William Hilton, 3, Upper Wellington Street, Strand

Upex, SG. 2001. The Roman Villa at Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. Britannia. Vol 32 57-91

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.