Ancient Scripts : Ogham – Old Irish inscriptions

On 1st November 2017 Dr Dominique Santos, a visiting scholar at the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity from the University of Blumenau, Brazil, gave a lecture on Ogham in the series ‘Introducing Ancient Scripts’. He kindly sent us a summary of his lecture. We are pleased to include this in our blog especially since he spent many months in the Taylor Institution Library for his research on Ogham, the script used for Old Irish, mainly inscribed on stones in Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Remarkably, the inscriptions were not made on the face but on the edge of the stones.

FARDEL Stone, from Devon, England (THOMAS, 1994, Fig. 16.6).

FARDEL Stone, from Devon, England (THOMAS, 1994, Fig. 16.6).

Some of the Ogham Stones are bilingual Ogham – Latin. In the studies on Latin language and bilingualism in Britannia Romana (Roman Britain), Ogham Stones are not often discussed. Aside from very specific studies, mainly conducted by Celtic scholars, little is said about the contexts of bilingualism (ADAMS, 2004) considering these monuments. There is a propensity in Roman epigraphic studies, including the most recent ones, to disregard bilingual Ogham Stones, even when focused on Late Antiquity.

That is why I have spent a year studying mainly the Ogham Stones. In the Taylorian I had access not only to the most important publications in the field of Ogham but also to the history of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man as well. The Library has a wonderful staff and the team is very knowledgeable about the collection and ready to help scholars research and explore this material.

During my working days at the Institutio Tayloriana, I have been asking myself the following questions: what could Ogham Stones tell us about exchanges and connections across the Irish Sea in Late Antiquity? Will the knowledge of this specific corpus be able to increase our understanding of the interaction among diverse cultures that inhabited, traded and communicated in (post-) Roman Britannia? Besides what has already been produced in other disciplines, how far could a historical approach to the subject contribute to its comprehension? Will these monuments have a broader role in historical books, being appreciated not only as merely illustrative ‘narrative appendices’ or an epigraphic object working as complement to other written sources? These are some of the issues I was concerned about.

‘Ogham Stones’ is the name the researchers of this field use to make reference to some erected stone monuments in Ireland, the Isle of Man, Wales, England and Scotland. This designation is based on the main alphabet, Ogham, created to carve short written messages on these monuments, which enabled the sound representation of the Irish language in its infancy. Because of this, Ogham Stones are considered national monuments in Ireland and controlled by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, an official government body. In fact, the majority of the stones are in Ireland, mainly in the South, in the counties of Kerry, Cork and Waterford, from where 247 inscriptions are registered. It would be a very hard task to keep them apart from their Irish background and the debate about the idea of Irishness. However, Ogham Stones are not restricted to Ireland; they are fundamental evidence for elucidating many aspects of the history of the places where they are found (MCMANUS, 1991; SANTOS, 2015) and, above all, the exchanges and connections across the Irish Sea in Late Antiquity, the object of this research.

Lewannick Ogham Stone – Cornwall - England

Lewannick Ogham Stone – Cornwall – England

In order to carve the messages using the Ogham alphabet, incisions were made around the edges of a stone, interpreted like a ‘natural line’, from bottom to top and left to right. The meaning was determined by the number, position and direction of the notches in this ‘line’. The marks were grouped in four blocks (aicmí) of five, corresponding to 20 letters. When they stand to the right of this central stemline they are consonants: one incision makes a ‘b’, two a ‘l’, three a ‘v/f/w’, four a ‘s’, and five a ‘n’. Following the same pattern, but to the left side: ‘h/y’, ‘d’, ‘t’, ‘c’, and ‘q’. Five diagonal marks across the stemline make the sequence ‘m’, ‘g’, ‘gw’, ‘st’, and ‘r’. The vowels were made with dots or horizontal lines crossing the stemline of the rock, also following the same logic. Thus, ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘u’, ‘e’ and ‘i’ (THURNEYSEN, 2003). A graphical example can be seen on the figure below.

The Ogham alphabet (CHARLES-EDWARDS, 2000, p. 165).

The Ogham alphabet (CHARLES-EDWARDS, 2000, p. 165).

The inscriptions to be carved were conceived by the ‘Oghamist’, a certain scholar with a deep knowledge of Irish tradition, mainly of the Early Irish Language (MCMANUS, 2006). In order to achieve a better quality, this scholar designed a sample, perhaps modelled on wax or a wooden piece and then a craftsman would have the task of carving the inscription at its final destination, the stone itself. It is possible that the person hired to do the job had little or no knowledge at all of the content of the writing, which could lead to misunderstandings and mistakes (MACALISTER, 1945/1996).

Ogham inscriptions have a similar pattern; they usually consist of personal names, ancestry or tribal affiliation. Fionnbarr Moore explains the inscriptions have a specific number of formulae: X MAQI Y, in English ‘X son of Y’; X AVI Y, in which AVI means ‘grandson’; X MAQI MUCOI Y, in this case, MAQI means ‘descendant’ and MUCOI perhaps stands for  some ancestral deity; another common Irish word is ANM, meaning ‘name of’; some stones also have inscriptions with KOI, which means ‘here’, this being the equivalent to the Latin Hic Iacit (Iacet) ‘here lies’; another important word is CELI, like in the formula X CELI Y, which means, ‘X follower of Y’. These phrases can be mixed to generate formulae like: X MAQI Y MUCOI Z; X KOI MAQI MUCOI Y (MOORE, 2010). In several occasions there is no formula at all, but just isolated names (MCMANUS, 2006, p. 98-99).

Despite the nomenclature and the epigraphic tradition, Ogham was not exclusively carved on stones, but also on other objects including bones, a wooden weaver’s sword, and a knife-handle (MCMANUS, 2006). From the 7th century on there are manuscripts written in Ogham. The most important of them is the Auraicept na nÉces, preserved at the fol. 169r- 180v of the Book of Ballymote, which explains how the alphabet works.

First page of the Auraicept na n-Éces from The Book of Ballymote. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS. 23 p 12, F. 170r.

First page of the Auraicept na n-Éces from The Book of Ballymote. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS. 23 p 12, F. 170r.

The tradition according to which the name of the letters of the Ogham alphabet comes from names of trees originated in this document; another fundamental text is the De dúilib feda na forfid, a manuscript that explains the functionality of the Ogham additional characters; In Lebor Ogaim, in its turn, is the most ancient treatise written in Old Irish about Ogham.

A definitive or absolute chronology for Ogham inscriptions cannot be provided. Since dendrochronology, thermoluminescence, carbon-14 and other modern dating methods are not useful to give a precise year of a stone, we can only try to figure out a relative chronology and this is what specialists have done. By using a philological approach and comparing the findings with other written sources and historical facts, finally, it is believed that Ogham Stones were probably carved since the middle 4th or the beginnings of the 5th century. However, it is possible that the alphabet employed to write the first graphical signs of Old Irish language was in use by the 2nd century (HARVEY, 1990, p. 13-14), or even the 1st (CARNEY, 1975, p. 53-65), and continued to be produced until the 9th (MCMANUS, 1991).

A late printed copy of the Book of Leinster manuscript containing the Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, in which the Irish hero Cúchulainn exchanges messages in Ogham [The Book of Leinster, (Dublin : Royal Irish Academy, 1880) Taylor Institution Library shelfmark C.625.22[O]]

A late printed copy of the Book of Leinster manuscript containing the Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, in which the Irish hero Cúchulainn exchanges messages in Ogham [The Book of Leinster, (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1880) Taylor Institution Library shelfmark C.625.22[O]].

Over such a vast period, some changes in this Irish epigraphical tradition can be noticed. Perhaps, the most remarkable could be the way the marks were carved. From the 4th until the 6th century they were made over the edge of the stones, interpreted as a ‘natural line’; since the 7th century, the stemline started to be drawn on the surface of the stone.

Ogham and Runic inscriptins on Maughold Stone (c. 800-899), from Kirk Maughold, Isle of Man (KERMODE, 1907, Plate LXIV).

Ogham and Runic inscriptins on Maughold Stone (c. 800-899), from Kirk Maughold, Isle of Man (KERMODE, 1907, Plate LXIV).

Generally, the first group of inscriptions is denominated as ‘orthodox’; the second is called ‘scholastic’.

The first Ogham Stone to be registered was found in 1702, in a place called Emlagh East (IMLEACH DHÚN SÉANN), in Co. Kerry, in the Dingle peninsula, Ireland, by the Welsh antiquarian Edward Lhuyd.  Nowadays, about 400 stones are known and recorded in Macalister’s Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum (CIIC). However, little attention has been given to the 33 bilingual corpora of Britannia. They were erected in Britannia Romana (and post-Roman Britain) and carved with Ogham alphabet and Roman capital letters in order to register messages in two languages, Irish and Latin. Some examples, are: Ogham Stone CIIC 368, that reads ‘MAQI MUCOI DUMELEDONAS’, in Ogham, for Irish language, and ‘BARRIVENDI FILIVS VENDVBARI HIC IACIT’, in Roman capitals, for Latin; CIIC 500, from which follows the inscription ‘[E]B[I]CATOS M[A]QI ROC[A]T[O]S’, in Ogham, and ‘ANMECATI FILIVS ROCATI HIC IACIT’, in Roman capitals; there are stones that contain only names in Ogham, but more information is given in Latin from the Roman capitals. These are the cases of CIIC 353, in which can be read ‘TRENACCATLO’, in Ogham, and ‘TRENACATVS IC IACIT FILIVS MAGLAGNI’, in Roman capitals; CIIC 358, that reads ‘VOTECORIGAS’, in Ogham, and ‘MEMORIA VOTEPORIGIS PROTICTORIS’, in Roman capitals; CIIC 380, from which one can read ‘ICORIGAS’, in Ogham, and ‘ICORI FILIVS POTENTINI’, in Roman capitals; and CIIC 422, that reads ‘VENDOGNI’, in Ogham, and [U]ENDOGNI [F]ILI [H]OCIDEGNI, in Roman capitals.

If Britannia Romana made an impact on Hibernia (the Latin name for Ireland), the opposite also happened. John Roche states that forts and cities in the region of what is Wales today, such as Cardiff and Caerwent, were designed to withstand Irish attacks, which saw the region as a potential slave market like the one in which (Saint) Patrick was captured. Many Roman coins were found in Ireland and are evidence for both trade and Irish incursions. This movement helps us to understand the later Irish colonies in Britain, evidence of much more permanent diplomatic relationships (ROCHE, 1993, p. 7-9). Anthony Harvey explains this is not surprising at all as the sea at the time was more a way than an impediment. Thus, the Irish Sea must have formed what he calls ‘an effective block to cultural communication for hundreds of years’ (HARVEY, 1990, p. 14). According to Charles Thomas, Irish presence in Britain may go back to the 3rd century and have lasted until the Viking incursions and is attested by the existence of personal names, nouns and conjunctions in Ogham inscriptions from the region (THOMAS, 1973, p. 5-13).

Thomas Charles-Edwards has pointed out that these inscriptions in Ogham indicate a desire to elevate Old Irish language to the same level and status as Latin (CHARLES-EDWARDS, 2000, p. 176-177).

To investigate Ogham Stones as evidence of historical connections across the Irish Sea was the challenge of my research, developed as part of my Sabbatical Leave at Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity. It would hardly have been possible without having access to the Taylorian Celtic Collection.

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Dr. Dominique Santos – Lecturer in Ancient and Medieval History at FURB – University of Blumenau – Santa Catarina – Brazil, was a Visiting Scholar at Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity in 2017.

References

(Titles available in the Taylor Institution Library)

ADAMS, J.N. Bilingualism and the Latin Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

ATKINSON, Robert. The Book of Leinster: sometime called the Book of Glendalough: a collection of pieces, prose and verse, in the Irish language, compiled in part, about the middle of the twelfth century: now for the first time published from the original manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1880.

BRUUN, Christer; EDMONDSON, Jonathan. The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

CARNEY, James. The Invention of the Ogom Cipher. Ériu, Vol. 26, 1975, p. 53-65.

CHARLES-EDWARDS, T. M.  Early Christian Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

COOLEY, Alisson E. The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

DI MARTINO, Vittorio. Roman Ireland, London: The Collins Press. 2003.

FORSYTH, Katherine Stuart. The Ogham Inscriptions of Scotland: An Edited Corpus. PhD Thesis, Harvard University, 1996. p. L.

FREEMAN, Philip. Ireland and the Classical World. Houston: University of Texas Press. 2001.

GUARINELLO, N. L. . Uma Morfologia da História: as formas da História Antiga. Politéia (Vitória da Conquista), Vitória da Conquista, v. 3, n.1, p. 41-62, 2003.

HARVEY, Anthony. The Ogham Inscriptions and the Roman Alphabet: Two Traditions or One? Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 4, Nº1, 1990. p. 13-14.

HINGLEY, Richard. Hadrian’s Wall: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2012.

KERMODE, P.M.C. Manx Crosses. London: Bemrose & Sons Ltd, 1907.

MACALISTER, R.A.S. Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum, Vol I. Dublin, Stationery Office, 1945.

MACALISTER, R.A.S. Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum, Vol I. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1996.

MCMANUS, Damian. A Guide to Ogam. Maynooth, 1991.

MCMANUS, Damian. Written on Stone. Irish Arts Review. Vol. 23, Nº3, 2006, pp. 98-99.

MOORE, Fionnbarr. The Ogham Stones of County Kerry. In: MURRAY, Griffin. Medieval Treasures of County Kerry. Tralee : Kerry County Museum 2010.

Ó CRÓINÍN, Dáibhi. Early Medieval Ireland 400-1200. Londres: Longman, 1995.

ROCHE, John. The Influence of Ireland on Roman Britain…:…Cursus Unicus? Archaeology Ireland. Vol. 7, nº 1, 1993, p. 7-9.

SANTOS, Dominique. Patrício: A Construção da Imagem de um Santo/How the Historical Patrick Was Transformed into the St. Patrick of Religious Faith. 1. ed. New York; Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2013.

SANTOS, Dominique. A Cultura Hiberno-Latina na Bretanha romana e pós-romana: evidências a partir das Ogham Stones. In: Anais eletrônicos do XXVIII Simpósio Nacional de História da ANPUH, Florianópolis, 2015.

STEVENSON, Jane. The Beginnings of Literacy in Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature. Vol. 89C, 1989. p. 127-165.

SWIFT, Catherine. Ogam Stones and the Earliest Irish Christians. Maynooth Monographs Series Minor II. Maynooth: St. Patrick’s College. 1997. p. 90.

THOMAS, Charles. Irish Colonists in South-West Britain. World Archaeology. Vol. 5, nº 1, Colonization, 1973, p. 5-13.

THOMAS, Charles. And Shall These Mute Stones Speak? Post-Roman Inscriptions in Western Britain. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1994.

THURNEYSEN, E. R. A Grammar of Old Irish. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2003.

 

 

LGBT History Month

A personal view: Yourcenar, Piranesi and Egypt
By Richard Bruce Parkinson

In the early 1960s, Marguerite Yourcenar wrote an essay on ‘Le cerveau noir de Piranèse (The dark brain of Piranesi)’. Earlier, in 1941, she and her American life-partner Grace Frick had bought four engravings in New York which remained with them for the rest of their lives, and one of them played a part in inspiring what remains her most famous work, Mémoires d’Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian 1951). The novel is a poetic evocation of the life of the Roman emperor, including his relationship with the handsome Antinous, who died on an imperial progress in middle Egypt in AD 130. The novel has always had particular resonance for LGBT readers as a profoundly ‘queer’ imagining of the ancient past, but it has also been inspirational for some Egyptologists, notably the great Philippe Derchain (1926–2012), who even composed a fictional account, in an intertextual dialogue with Yourcenar’s novel, of the Barberini obelisk that Hadrian had erected in Antinous’ honour.

Fig. 1. G. B. Piranesi: ‘Exterior of the so-called “Tempio del Dio Canopo” at Hadrian’s Villa,Tivoli’, in Vedute di Roma, vol. 5 (ca. 1769)

The above print, by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), from around 1769, shows the exterior of the so-called ‘Tempio del Dio Canopo’ at Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli from the series entitled Vedute di Roma, which forms volume 5 in Taylorian founder Sir Robert Taylor’s own set of Piranesi volumes, now housed in the Taylor Institution Library (see http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylorian/2014/12/19/unpacking-sir-robert-taylors-library/). The villa was central to Yourcenar’s inspiration, and this is the one image she described in detail in her reflective notes on composing the novel. From ancient descriptions of the villa as containing a ‘Canopus’, the building at its centre was thought to represent the town of Canopus in Egypt, and it was traditionally regarded as the find spot for many Egyptianising works of art from the villa. In the novel, ‘cette chapelle de Canope où son culte se célèbre à l’égyptienne (that chapel of Canopus where his cult is celebrated in Egyptian fashion)’ is evoked as Hadrian attempts to summon up the ghost of his lost beloved. Piranesi’s print is a carefully captioned view of the structure, reflecting his concerns to document the ‘speaking ruins’ of ancient Rome, but it also possesses a romantic quality that appealed to Yourcenar. She described the etching as showing ‘structure ronde, éclatée come un crâne, d’où de vagues broussailles pendent comme des mèches de cheveux. Le génie presque médiumnique de Piranèse a flairé là l’hallucination, les longues routines du souvenir, l’architecture tragique d’un monde intérieur (a round structure, burst open like a skull, from which fallen trees and brush hang vaguely down, like strands of hair. The genius of Piranesi, almost mediumistic, has truly caught the element of hallucination here: he has sensed the long-continued rituals of mourning, the tragic architecture of an inner world)’.  The domed building is skull-like, with two fallen masses of the vault placed symmetrically in the foreground like jaws; they still lie in the area today.

Fig. 2. The vault and fallen blocks of the ‘Canopus’ (photograph: R. B. Parkinson)

As Nigel Saint has noted, the view down the central axis of the etching allows the viewer to look from the outside into as it were the inner parts of the emperor’s private world, as Yourcenar attempted. The strikingly symmetrical composition creates a sense of mystery: what are the three tiny figures doing in the centre of the monumental arena – are they reading palms?

Fig. 3. G. B. Piranesi: ‘Exterior of the so-called “Tempio del Dio Canopo” at Hadrian’s Villa,Tivoli’ (detail), in Vedute di Roma, vol. 5 (ca. 1769)

As Yourcenar’s emperor says of his villa, ‘chaque édifice était le plan d’un songe (each structure was the chart of a dream)’. The tree on the left seems playfully to echo the gesturing figure on the right, as if monument, nature and humans are all parts of a single grandiose ruin: such contemporaneous figures appealed to Yourcenar’s desire to explore ways to mediate between the living present and the past, through ‘[les] milliers de vies silencieuses, furtives comme celles des bêtes … qui se sont succédé ici entre Hadrien et nous (the thousands of lives, silent and furtive as those of wild beasts … who have followed in our succession here between Hadrian’s time and ours)’. For her, the depiction of a ruin becomes ‘une méditation à la fois visuelle et métaphysique sur la vie et la mort des formes (a meditation both visual and metaphysical on the life and death of forms)’.

To modern archaeological eyes, the print also shows that any historical certainty is remarkably uncertain, as excavations and reconstructions of the building continually change the picture in every sense: the traditional idea that this building was connected with Egyptianising art-works and cult has been disputed, and its identification as Hadrian’s ‘Canopus’ is far from certain, with architectural historians arguing that it was probably only a scenic triclinium for the summer months.

Fig. 4. The ‘Canopus’ with a restored pool and re-erected columns (photograph: R. B. Parkinson)

The architecture is no longer considered in any way ‘tragic’. New layers of interpretation gather around the image, but I retain a fondness for it, partly as a symbol of Yourcenar’s vision of a queer ‘monde intérieur’. And partly because a print of it hung (and still hangs) over the fireplace of the sitting room in Petite Plaisance, the house that she shared with Grace Frick in Northeast Harbor, Maine.

Fig. 5. Yousuf Karsh: Marguerite Yourcenar at Petite Plaisance in 1987 (© Estate of Yousuf Karsh)

The print thus not only evokes the ancient past of Hadrian and Antinous, but also the modern personal, domestic world of Yourcenar and Frick. For me, as a gay Egyptologist, it has become an image of what historians do in trying to recapture a sense of ancient lived experiences—not only with precision, but also with imagination and empathy.

Richard Bruce Parkinson
Professor of Egyptology & Fellow of The Queen’s College
University of Oxford

Post Script

The opportunity to view this and Piranesi’s other etchings took place during a special seminar, ‘G. B. Piranesi: Sir Robert Taylor’s Collection of Etchings & the Ashmolean Candelabra’, held at the Taylor Institution and the Ashmolean Museum in late 2017. The occasion arose from Oxford’s 2017 Slade Lectures, ‘The Material Presence of Absent Antiquities’ (http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/event/slade-lectures-2017), during which Caroline van Eck (Uni-versity of Cambridge) focused on the works of Piranesi, thus prompting further investigation of the Taylorian’s collection. In remarkable condition and logistically difficult to display, the Library’s full set had rarely (if ever) been shown in its entirety. The Piranesi seminar, led by Professor van Eck, thus enabled an international group of academics and curators from a variety of disciplines to examine and discuss Sir Robert Taylor’s set; and also to hear, from Christoph Frank (U. della Svizzera italiana, Mendrisio), about the discovery of a previously unknown album of Piranesi drawings at Karlsruhe, throwing light on the conservation history of one of the Ashmolean candelabra.

Fig. 6. G.B. Piranesi. Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne ed ornamenti antichi (Rome, 1778)

To many, the most compelling component of the seminar was volume 17. This, an ‘elephant folio’ (79 x 61 cm.), unfolded at one end to a 3.5 metre-long etching of the Colonna Traiana (Trajan’s Column, fig. 9); and, at the other, to an equally long Colonna Antonina (also known as the Colonna di Marco Aurelio or Colonna Aureliana).

 

Clare Hills-Nova
Italian Literature & Language Librarian
Taylor Institution Library

Further reading

Marguerite Yourcenar:

Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoires d’Hadrien (Paris: Plon, 1951). English translation by Grace Frick: Memoirs of Hadrian (London : Readers Union, 1955).

Marguerite Yourcenar, ‘‘Le cerveau noir de Piranèse’ in Sous bénéfice d’inventaire (Paris: Gallimard, 1962). English translation by Richard Howard in The Dark Brain of Piranesi and Other Essays (Henley-on-Thames: Ellis, 1985), 88–128.

Véronique Beirnaert-Mary and Achmy Halley (ed.), Marguerite Yourcenar et l’empereur Hadrien: Une réécriture de l’antiquité (Gand: Snoeck, 2015).

Thorsten Opper, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict (London: British Museum, 2008).

R. B. Parkinson, A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World (London: British Museum, 2013), 118-121.

Nigel Saint, Marguerite Yourcenar: Reading the Visual (Oxford: Legenda, 2000).

Fig. 9. G.B. Piranesi. Veduta del prospotto principale della Colonna Trajana (Ghent University Library)

G. B. Piranesi:

Ghent University Library/Universiteits Bibliotheek Gent. Prints by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778): http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/collection/a1004 (viewed 03/02/2018).

Georg Kabierske, “A Cache of Newly Identified Drawings by Piranesi and His Studio at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe”, Master Drawings LIII/2 (2015), 147-179.

Georg Kabierske, “Vasi, urne, cinerarie, altari e candelabri: Newly Identified Drawings for Piranesi’s Antiquities and Sculptural Comporsisions at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe” in Francesco Nevola (ed.), Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Predecessori, contemporanei e successori: Studi in onore di John Wilton-Ely  (Rome: Quasar, 2016), 245-262.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, [Opera Piranesi]. Rome, [1748-1779]: v.1-4. Le antichità romane. — v.5-6. Vedute di Roma. — v.7. Ioannis Baptistae Piranesii antiquariorum. — Osservazioni. — v.8. Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo. –Antichità di Cora. -v.9. Alcune vedute di archi trionfali. — Opere varie di architettura prospettive grotteschi antichità. — Le rouine del castello dell’Acqua Giulia. — Trofei di Ottaviano Avgvsto. — v.10. Ioannis Baptistae Piranesii antiquariorum regiae. — v.11, 12. Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi. — v.13. Descrizione e disegno dell’emissario del Lago Albano. — I. B. Piranesii Lapides capitolini. — v.14. Raccolta de tempj antichi. — Diversi maniere d’adornare i cammini. — v.15. Différentes vues de quelques restes de trois grands édifices. — v.16. Raccolta di alcuni disegni del Barberi da Cento. — Carceri d’invenzione. — Il teatro d’Ercolano alla maestra di Gustavo III. — v.17. Trofeo o sia magnifica colonna. — Colonna Antonina come si vede oggidi. — Colonna eretta in memoria dell’apoteosi di Antonino Pio.

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

The Image of Dante, the Divine Comedy and the Visual Arts in the Ashmolean Museum and the Taylor Institution Library

I: The Image of the Poet

Oxford’s dedication to Dante is deep-rooted. The University’s Dante Society was set up in 1876 (thirteen years before the foundation of the Dante Alighieri Society in Italy), and has provided a focus for the reading and discussion of his work ever since. The intellectual preoccupation has been overwhelmingly literary and textual. Yet the cult has had more extensive visual dimensions than its devotees may have realised (or wished to acknowledge). Oxford bears rich traces of this visual culture.

Earlier this year, the Ashmolean Museum’s Print Room hosted two seminars — one for the University’s Dante Society, the other for the Print Research Seminar — at which works in the collections of the Ashmolean and the Taylor Institution Library were presented and discussed. This is the first of two short pieces deriving from those seminars. Both posts focus on the iconography of Dante, as this is represented in particular in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum and of the Taylor Institution Library in Oxford. The second piece (to be posted later in the year) will consider illustrations to the Divine Comedy between the sixteenth and the twenty-first century. This, the first post, addresses the image of Dante.

Reception of Dante has always been inflected by perception of the poet. Each age, just as it re-reads the Comedy, at the same time re-envisions its author. Readers always believe they know what Dante looked like – a remarkable claim to authentic connection, considering how little information we really have. The Ashmolean possesses a plaster mould of what in the nineteenth century was reputed to be ‘Dante’s death-mask’.

Mask of Dante. Plaster, 19th century (Ashmolean Museum: WA.OA1767 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

Mask of Dante. Plaster, 19th century (Ashmolean Museum: WA.OA1767 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

This example was given in 1879 to the Oxford Dante Society by Seymour Kirkup, a fanatical Dantophile and long-standing resident of Florence (who believed he was in direct spirit communication with the great poet). The minutes of the Dante Society in November of that year record the gift:

Baron Kirkup having at the suggestion of Signor de Tivoli kindly presented to the Society a Cast from the Mask of Dante in his possession, which formerly belonged to Signor Bartolini [Lorenzo Bartolini (d.1850), sculptor and maker of casts in Florence], and which has been on good grounds believed to have been taken from the Mask originally placed upon Dante’s Tomb at Ravenna. Resolved that the best thanks of the Society be conveyed to Baron Kirkup [via] Signor de Tivoli. Signor de Tivoli informed the Society that it was also the wish of Baron Kirkup that in the event of the Society being at any future time dissolved the cast should remain in the possession of the Secretary for the time being, or other chief officer of the Society.

In the event, however, the head was in 1920 consigned by the Society to the Ashmolean Museum, where it has been little noticed.

The head, which was made in two halves, may have been created from the plaster head of Dante kept in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, which had formerly belonged to Kirkup. (This is the head around which revolves the plot of the book, Inferno, published in 2013 by Dan Brown.) Kirkup had also, in 1840, employed a restorer to look for the supposed Portrait of Dante by Giotto in the chapel of the Bargello, of which he produced a tracing and drawing, on the basis of which a chromolithograph was published by the Arundel Society in the following year.

Portrait of Dante after the image in the Bargello, published by the Arundel Society, 1841 (© The British Museum)

Portrait of Dante after the image in the Bargello, published by the Arundel Society, 1841 (© The British Museum)

In reality the fresco in the Bargello dates from after Giotto’s death, and is not likely to represent Dante. The Palazzo Vecchio head, and another in the Florentine Palazzo Torrigiani del Nero, were thought in the nineteenth century to be based either upon a death-mask or upon another three-dimensional image created for the poet’s tomb at Ravenna in 1483. None of this has any basis in historical fact. The stories tell us, in despite of the absence of evidence, about a recurrent desire for proximity to the poet through his supposed likeness.

The history of Dante’s portrait took a new turn in 1865 when, in the six-hundredth anniversary of his birth and in the highly relevant context of the Unification of Italy, his bones (seemingly authentic) were rediscovered near to the tomb in Ravenna. The availability of the skull (albeit lacking the jawbone) led – after some time and strong official resistance to any interference with the sacred relics – to attempts to reconstruct Dante’s facial appearance on this basis. This has continued to generate versions which have made their own respective contemporary claims to the Dante aura.  That produced in the 1930s by Fabio Frassetto was framed in the political language of the time, and was claimed to prove (against other theories) that Dante was ‘of the Mediterranean race’.

Fabio Frassetto, Head of Dante, bronze (From: A.Cottignoli and G.Gruppioni, Fabio Frassetto e l’enigma del volto di Dante (2012])

Fabio Frassetto, Head of Dante, bronze (From: A.Cottignoli and G.Gruppioni, Fabio Frassetto e l’enigma del volto di Dante (2012])

In 2006 anthropologists at the University of Bologna, working on the skull with new methods of facial reconstruction, came up with what La Repubblica announced on its front page to be, at last, ‘the true portrait of Dante’.

Reconstruction of the head of Dante by the University of Bologna, 2006 (© La Repubblica)

Reconstruction of the head of Dante by the University of Bologna, 2006 (© La Repubblica)

The only relatively early verbal description of Dante, which can be set alongside this reconstruction, is that given by Boccaccio, presumably based on conversations held in Ravenna with people who had known the poet in his fifties:

“Our poet was of middle height and in his later years he walked somewhat bent over, with a grave and gentle gait. He was clad always in the most seemly attire, such as befitted his ripe years. His face was long, his nose aquiline, and his eyes rather big than small. His jaws were large, and his lower lip protruded. His complexion was dark, his hair and beard thick, black and curly, and his expression ever melancholy and thoughtful.”

What, meanwhile, have remained more plausible (if less ‘scientifically’ authenticated) portraits of Dante were those made at the beginning of the sixteenth century by Raphael, as part of his decoration for the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace. Raphael had seen in Florence a number of fifteenth-century depictions of Dante which had together established a more-or-less canonical image: these must lie behind his depictions. Dante appears in Raphael’s frescoes among the theologians witnessing the Disputa concerning the Holy Sacrament, and again as one of the poets joining Apollo on Parnassus. Later artists would copy these representations of the poet, especially the former, which is closer to the eye level of the visitor. The Ashmolean owns a fine black chalk drawing after the Dante of the Disputa which may have been made by a pupil of Thomas Lawrence (but not, pace Francis Douce who owned the drawing before giving it to the museum, by Lawrence himself, who only visited Rome late in life and when working in a different style).

Pupil of Thomas Lawrence(?), Dante, after Raphael (Ashmolean Museum: WA1863.1413© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

Pupil of Thomas Lawrence(?), Dante, after Raphael (Ashmolean Museum: WA1863.1413 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

The nineteenth century would see a shift in taste from this type of the Dante portrait, haughty and austere, to a focus on a more youthful and romantic image. The change was facilitated by the publication of the Bargello ‘portrait’. It was the presentation to his father (by the indefatigable Kirkup) of a copy of this image which kindled in the young Dante Gabriel Rossetti an interest in the supposed relationship between Dante and Giotto, and fostered his own commitment to become an artist. The Ashmolean has relatively recently acquired a drawing for Rossetti’s painting of Giotto Painting Dante.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (record photo) (Ashmolean Museum: WA2014.36 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (record photo) (Ashmolean Museum: WA2014.36 © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

Another drawing for the work is in the Tate and the finished painting (c. 1852) is in the collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (© Tate, London 2017)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (© Tate, London 2017)

The importance to Rossetti of this image of friendship between the poet after whom he had himself been named and the ideal painter is indicated by the fact that he made a watercolour copy in 1859 (Fogg Art Museum), in which his own features were given to the figure of Giotto – a further creative dimension of the nineteenth-century Dante cult.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop © President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop © President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Professor Gervase Rosser
History of Art Department & Faculty of History
University of Oxford

Martin Luther: ein Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen – An Open Letter on Translating (1530)

500 years ago, on 31st October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church (known as the Castle Church) in Wittenberg; this became known as the start of the Reformation.

Not many years later, in 1522, Luther finished his Bible translation into German, thus making the Bible accessible to people who did not know Latin. They could now read the Bible for themselves, and were no longer solely dependent on explanations and interpretations given by priests. Not only was this Bible translation hugely important in the breakthrough of the Reformation; it also was the deciding factor in determining the main language used in Germany. Since Luther wrote in his own High German dialect, this – rather than Low German – became the main language of Germany.

It was not just the fact that Luther had translated the Bible that was important: it was also the way he did it. Like others before him, Luther cultivated a sense-for-sense, as opposed to a word-for-word, approach. His great innovation was a translation style close in register to colloquial speech, but with a simple eloquence that brought the original text alive. (Jones 2017: xiv)

Luther explained his ideas about sense-for-sense translating of the Bible in an Open Letter, Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen (Open Letter on Translating). This Sendbrief or Open Letter is one of the Luther pamphlets the Taylorian is fortunate to hold. These pamphlets were acquired from several University Libraries, notably Heidelberg, in 1878. The Sendbrief was chosen for re-publication on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Subsequently, it has been published online, and including a translation into English, and can be freely downloaded from http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylor/about/exhibitions-and-publications (print copies for sale in the library). Howard Jones translated the text into English, Henrike Lähnemann wrote the introduction and Emma Huber (German Librarian) prepared the digital publication.

Image of the Taylorian publication of Luther's Ein Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen - an open letter on translating.

The Sendbrief was read out in full on 25th May 2017 at the Taylor Institution by over 30 readers who read one or two paragraphs each. This reading event brought the text to life in a new way. The entire event is available on video from http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/sendbrief-vom-dolmetschen.

As an author, Luther came across as a witty person who knew how to engage with his audience of ordinary people. He criticised his opponents for being ‘Esel’ (donkeys), not clever enough to understand that the real purpose of the Bible was to be read by all, whether educated or not.

Luther’s thoughts about translation also became clear to me when I heard the letter read aloud.  His thoughts on how to translate in such a manner that the ordinary person could understand the text can be regarded as an early example of translation theory. One of Luther’s arguments against literal translation was illustrated by the angel’s greeting to Mary ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord be with you’. Luther goes on to say ‘Tell me, is this good German? Show me any German who says, ‘You are full of grace’. For that matter, what German will understand the meaning of ‘full of grace’? They’re going to think of a barrel full of beer or a bag full of money. That’s why I rendered it into German as ‘gracious one’, to make it easier for a German to actually work out what the angel means by his greeting.’ Luther’s concern was that the language of the Bible should not be a barrier to understanding for those listening to it read aloud, or reading it themselves.

The facsimile and transcription can be found on https://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylor-reformation/digital-library/ein-sendbrief-vom-dolmetschen/.

 

References

Martin Luther, translated by Howard Jones (2017) Ein Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen = An open letter on translating. Treasures of the Taylorian. Series one. Reformation pamphlets. Oxford : Taylor Institution Library.

Taylor Institution Library Main Stack BR333.L88 LUT 2017

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Johanneke Sytsema, Linguistics Librarian

‘The Unnatural Life at the Writing-Desk’: Women’s Writing across the Long Eighteenth Century

In conjunction with the one-day interdisciplinary conference, ‘Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies’ (held on Saturday, 17th June, at the Taylor Institution and TORCH), the Taylorian hosted an exhibition entitled ‘The Unnatural Life at the Writing-Desk’: Women’s Writing across the Long Eighteenth Century. The exhibition was curated by Dr Kelsey Rubin-Detlev, Joanna Raisbeck and Ben Shears. The exhibition catalogue is available at this link.

The exhibition aims to display the contribution that women writers (broadly conceived) made to a variety of fields in the long eighteenth century, with sections, among others, on science, focussed on Emilie Du Châtelet; drama, with works by Hannah More and Charlotte von Stein; and letters. The aim is to move beyond entrenched or prescriptive ideas of the areas in which women could operate—including for example, translation—and to offer a nuanced perspective on the breadth and depth of women’s writing across Europe. The exhibition draws in the most part on volumes held in the special collections of the Taylor Institution Library, but also on the antiquarian collections of Somerville College, and showcases the work of, among others, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sophie Mereau, Fanny Burney, Françoise de Graffigny, and Catherine the Great.

Below are a few examples of some of the works exhibited, which have been chosen for how they differ from clichés of women’s writing in the eighteenth century, such as women primarily producing (epistolary) novels and translations. These include the German writer Benedikte Naubert was important for the development of the historical novel, Charlotte von Stein, who is better known for her relation to Goethe than her dramas, and an edition of Catherine the Great’s dramas. The volumes in themselves are intriguing historical and cultural artefacts:

Benedikte Naubert 

Benedikte Naubert (1756-1819) was one of the first professional female authors in Germany. Although her work has been overlooked in literary history because of its ‘trivial’ associations – a pejorative term, particularly in German literary historiography –, she influenced writers such as Ann Radcliffe and Friedrich Schiller by establishing the secret tribunal novel (Vehmgerichtsroman). Hermann von Unna (‘Hermann of Unna’, 1788) was the first of two such novels, with the second, Alf von Dülmen, following in 1791. Recently her oeuvre has been recognised for its importance in the development of the historical novel and fairy tale as literary genres, as well as preparing the ground for the genre of Gothic fiction.

Hermann von Unna was one of the first German Gothic novels to be translated into English in 1794 and was adapted for the stage at Covent Garden in 1795, and a French dramatization was published in 1791, Le Tribunal Secret. Naubert draws on the German Vehmgericht (Vehmic courts) of the Middle Ages to explore in an intricate, episodic plot, the fears ignited by the French Revolution of secret tribunals and conspiracy theories. Although the Taylorian does not hold any German editions of Naubert’s Hermann von Unna, it does have French and English translations, including copies of the first three editions of Hermann von Unna in English, which all stem from the same anonymously published translation. The English translation erroneously ascribes the novel to a so-called Professor Kramer, an ill-chosen pseudonym since it was linked to Karl Gottlob Cramer, a writer known for adventure novels.

Charlotte von Stein

Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), in Charlotte von Stein, Dramen, ed. Susanne Kord (Hildesheim: Olms, 1998) (facsimile) EP.667.A.10

Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), in Charlotte von Stein, Dramen, ed. Susanne Kord (Hildesheim: Olms, 1998) (facsimile) EP.667.A.10

Charlotte von Stein (1742-1827), a lady-in-waiting at the court of Weimar, has featured in literary history primarily in association with Goethe. She is variously considered his close friend, muse, and – in the more sensationalist readings – his lover. But she also wrote several dramas, only one of which, Die Zwey Emilien (The Two Emilies), was published during her lifetime. Of these dramas, the tragedy Dido has garnered critical attention because of its gently comic portrayal of Goethe.

The comedy Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), which explores the social construction of gender, is an interesting example of editorial practices. It was first published by von Stein’s grandson Felix von Stein in 1867, but in an edited form that reduced the original five acts to four. The drama was re-published with further editorial amendments by Franz Ulbrich, who based his edition on the 1867 publication, rather than on the original text.

Charlotte von Stein’s dramas were re-published as part of the series Frühe Frauenliteratur in Deutschland (Early Women’s Writing in Germany) by the publishing house Olms. These editions feature facsimiles of the original or pre-existing versions of the texts. In this case, the version of Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe follows the twentieth-century publication edited by Franz Ulbrich.

Catherine the Great 

Catherine the Great and others, Théâtre de l’Hermitage de Catherine II, impératrice de Russie, 2 vols (Paris: F. Buisson, Year 7 [1798]) VET.FR.II.B.1412 (v. 1)

Catherine the Great and others, Théâtre de l’Hermitage de Catherine II, impératrice de Russie, 2 vols (Paris: F. Buisson, Year 7 [1798]) VET.FR.II.B.1412 (v. 1)

Elite women wrote and performed in private theatricals all across eighteenth-century Europe, from Elizabeth, Countess Harcourt, in Oxfordshire to Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Catherine the Great in Russia did not perform herself, but she wrote extensively for the public and the private stage. In 1787-1788, she led her courtiers and some foreign diplomats in composing a series of theatrical works (largely proverb plays), which were then performed by a troupe of French actors in the recently-built Hermitage theatre in her palace in St Petersburg. She oversaw the first edition of the plays in 1788, distributing the very small print run only to those who had contributed to the collection. One of the participants, the then French ambassador Louis Philippe de Ségur, then republished the work after her death. This volume is the curious result of publishing a relic of ancien régime culture in Revolutionary France: a particularly inaccurate engraving of the Empress faces a title page using the Revolutionary calendar but prominently crediting an absolute monarch and outspoken opponent of the Revolution as the lead author.

Beyond showcasing the variety of women’s writing in print form in the eighteenth century, one unique and valuable item that was on display was a letter by Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Letter from Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte, 5 Ventôse [24 February 1796] Courtesy of Bryan Ward-Perkins and the President and Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford

Letter from Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte, 5 Ventôse [24 February 1796]. Courtesy of Bryan Ward-Perkins and the President and Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford.

There are few extant letters by Josephine known to exist, and this one in particular had been known to exist from an undated facsimile from the early nineteenth century. This original manuscript of the letter was discovered in the archives of Trinity College by the Fellow Archivist Bryan Ward-Perkins. Since the letter is rare, the manuscript was only exhibited for one day of the exhibition, replaced by a scanned paper copy for the remainder of the time. It was nonetheless quite the coup to be allowed to include the letter in the exhibition.

The exhibition ran in parallel with two conferences, originally ‘Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies’ and then extended to cover the Women in German Studies Open Conference on Reform and Revolt. The exhibition was not just of interest to university students and academics, however, since it was also shown to the school pupils on the UNIQ summer schools in German and French – in the hope of conveying to the next generation how exciting it can be to work with books and manuscripts as historical objects.

Joanna Raisbeck
Somerville College, University of Oxford

A tale of two sisters: Simone and Hélène de Beauvoir’s La Femme rompue

‘I was her first “reader”, and I would draw’, writes Hélène de Beauvoir (1910-2001) in Souvenirs (De Beauvoir, 1987, p.72), where she recalls how, in the early years, she came to choose the vocation of artist, whilst her elder sister, Simone (1908-1986), preferred to write.

De Beauvoir, S. and H. de Beauvoir, 1967. La femme rompue. Title page. Paris: Gallimard. W.J. Strachan Collection, Taylor Institution Library, Oxford

Many years later, shortly after giving a speech on the subject of women and creativity during a visit to Japan in 1966 (Francis, Gontier and De Beauvoir, 1979, pp.458-474), the author of Le deuxième sexe (Gallimard, 1949) wrote to her younger sister with an invitation to create a series of engravings based on her new novel, La femme rompue (Gallimard, 1967). Although Gallimard initially hesitated to take on the project, over fears of it being a rather controversial piece of literature, the completed work, including its illustrations, was finally published in 1967 and also appeared in Elle magazine’s October-November issue of that year (Weber-Feve, 2010, p.82).

De Beauvoir, S., and H. de Beauvoir, 1967. La femme rompue, pp. 162-163. Paris: Gallimard. Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. W.J. Strachan Collection. (Image: Koninklijke Bibliotheek/National Library of the Netherlands)

The novel is written in the form of an intimate diary and recounts the experience of a housewife who struggles to come to terms with the sudden discovery that her husband has another woman in his life. The main themes covered in the story are echoed in the individual memoirs of the Beauvoir sisters, with particular regard to their mother’s confined domestic life in their family home in the rue de Rennes, Paris, and Simone’s later experience as the second woman in her relationship with philosopher, novelist and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). It is this more personal content in La femme rompue, which drew scathing remarks from (male) critics, who viewed the novel as too autobiographical and less interesting than some of the author’s previous work.

Hélène readily accepted the invitation to create illustrations for her sister’s novel and strongly defended the text against the harsh criticism it received. As an art form, the livre d’artiste (artist’s book) was already well-established by this time, with a long tradition of artists, authors, designers and printers collaborating to produce books that were highly sought after by private collectors and bibliophile societies.

 Twentieth century artists’ books, showing artist-designed bindings. Sir Paul Getty Collection, Wormsley Library, Buckinghamshire. (Photo: Olivia Freuler)

Several publishers and art dealers had pioneered the genre in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, notably the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1866–1939), who, in 1900, published Parallèlement by the French poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), with lithographs by the artist Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). These set themselves apart from earlier pictorial illustrations because of the way in which they explored the broader mood and themes of the poems instead of focusing mainly on the actions or situations described in the text (Castleman, 1994, pp.27-28). Similarly, Hélène de Beauvoir’s engravings for La femme rompue the different emotional states of the main character through figures that are either enclosed in small boxes or caught in a chaotic spiral of jumbled, jagged lines, thus powerfully conveying the way in which the narrator’s life is torn apart and tipped upside down by sudden and unexpected revelations.

In her own memoirs, Hélène expressed a certain fondness for working in black and white and mentions her admiration for classic French tales by La Comtesse de Ségur (1799-1874) and Charles Perrault (1628-1703), who respectively authored Les Malheurs de Sophie (1858) and Histoire ou Contes du temps passé (1697), citing in particular the illustrations by Gustave Doré (1832-1883) for Perrault’s Contes as an early source of inspiration.

 
Gustave Doré. Illustration for ‘Le Petit Chaperon Rouge’ in Perrault, C. 1862. Les contes de Perrault. Paris: J. Hetzel  and Librairie Firmin Didot Freres et Fils. Woodcut.  (Image: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Simone was supportive of her sister’s artistic career, and frequently helped pay for her studio in the rue Santeuil, Paris, in her formative years. However, her feelings about Hélène’s capabilities as an artist — and about women artists in general — were rather mixed, as is revealed through one of her letters to Sartre written in May 1954 (De Beauvoir, Sartre and Le Bon de Beauvoir, 1992, p.504) and in Le deuxième sexe, in a chapter titled “La Femme indépendante” where she laments the way in which women artists frequently see their work merely as a way to pass the time. (De Beauvoir and Parshley, 1953, pp.663-665). It wasn’t until 1966, on the occasion of the aforementioned speech in Japan, that Simone began to defend women artists and highlight the lack of support often faced by women who chose art as their vocation – a turning point that certainly encouraged a collaboration between the two siblings.

One hundred and forty-three copies were made of the illustrated edition of La femme rompue. Of the sixteen engravings produced by Hélène de Beauvoir for this publication, five form part of the Taylor Institution Library’s Strachan Collection of livres d’artistes extracts (now housed, for conservation reasons, at the Sackler Library). The collection was built by Walter Strachan (1903-1994) from the 1940s onwards and in it are a number of other works illustrated by women artists: Michèle Bardet, Micheline Catti (b.1926), Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1927-1991), Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), Denise Esteban (1924-1986), Léonor Fini (1908-1996), Carmen Martinez, Germaine Richier (1904-1959), Suzanne Roger (1898-1986), Brigitte Simon (1926-2009) and Ania Staritsky (1908-1981), all of whom are listed below along with the books’ authors.

Ania Staritsky. Illustration from: Albert-Birot, P., 1978. Poèmes du dimanche. Paris: Editions sic. Etching. W.J. Strachan Collection, Taylor Institution Library, Oxford. (Image: Strachan, W. J., 1987. Le livre d’artiste)

Olivia Freuler, Graduate Library Trainee, Sackler Library, Bodleian Libraries

Texts with illustrations by women artists in the Taylorian’s W.J. Strachan Collection

ALBERT-BIROT, P. (Author), STARITSKY, A. (Artist), 1978. Poèmes du dimanche. Paris: Editions sic.

BONNEFOY, Y. (Author), ESTEBAN, D. (Artist), 1973. Une peinture métaphysique. Paris: Esteban.

BUTOR, M. (Author), MARTNEZ, C. (Artist), 1976. Devises fantômes. Paris: Martinez.

CELAN, P. (Author), CELAN-LESTRANGE, G. (Artist), 1965. Atemkristall. Paris: R. Altmann.

CELAN, P. (Author), CELAN-LESTRANGE, G. (Artist), 1969. Schwarzmaut. Vaduz: Editions Brunidor.

DE NERVAL, G. (Author), FINI, L. (Artist), 1960. Aurélia. Monaco: Le Club International de Bibliophilie.

DORCELY, R. (Author), ROGER, S. (Artist), 1961. S.O.S. Paris: Galerie Louise Leiris.

ESTEBAN, C. (Author), SIMON, B. (Artist), 1968. La saison dévastée. Paris: D. Renard.

GARNUNG, F. (Editor), BARDET, M. (Artist), 1956. Epitaphes grecques et epitaphes funéraires grecques. Paris: Les Impénitents.

GHERASIM, L. (Author), CATTI, M. (Artist), 1967. Droit de regard sur les idées. M. Paris: Editions Brunidor & Robert Altmann.

RIMBAUD, J-A. (Author), RICHIER, G. (Artist), 1951. Une saison en enfer, Les déserts de l’amour, Les illuminations. Lausanne: Gonin.

SHAKESPEARE, W. (Author), FINI, L., (Artist), 1965. La Tempête. Paris : Aux dépens d’un amateur.

TZARA, T. (Author), DELAUNAY, S. (Artist), 1961. Juste présent. Paris: Galerie Louis Leiris.

ZDANEVICH, I. (Author), STARITSKY, A. (Artist), 1982. Un de la brigade. Paris: Hélène Iliazd.

I would like to thank Nick Hearn, French and Slavonic Subject Specialist, Taylor Institution Library, for his help in researching the Zdanevich title.

Bibliography

CASTLEMAN, R., 1994. A century of artist’s books. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

DE BEAUVOIR, H., ROUTIER, M. (ed.), 1987. Souvenirs. Paris: Séguier.

DE BEAUVOIR, S., 1959. Memoirs of a dutiful daughter. Translated by KIRKUP, J. New York and Cleveland: World Publishing Company. (Originally published in 1958, Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée. Paris: Gallimard).

DE BEAUVOIR, S., 1953. The second sex. Translated by PARSHLEY, H.M. London: Jonathan Cape. (Originally published in 1949, Le deuxième sexe. Paris: Gallimard)

DE BEAUVOIR, S., 1969. The woman destroyed. Translated by O’BRIAN, P. London: Collins. (Originally published in 1967, La femme rompue: L’Age de discrétion. Monologue. Paris: Gallimard).

DE BEAUVOIR, S. 1979. La femme et la création. In: DE BEAUVOIR, S., FRANCIS, C. (ed.) and GONTIER, F. (ed.), Les écrits de Simone de Beauvoir: la vie, l’écriture, avec en appendice, textes inédits ou retrouvés. Paris: Gallimard.

DE BEAUVOIR, S., SARTRE, J-P., LE BON DE BEAUVOIR, S. (ed.), 1992. Letters to Sartre. Translated by HOARE, Q. London: Vintage. (Originally published in 1990, Lettres à Sartre. Paris: Gallimard).

MONTEIL, C., 2004. The Beauvoir sisters. Translated by DE JAGER, M. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

PERRAULT, C., STAHL, P.J. (ed.), DORE, G. (ill.) 1862. Les contes de Perrault. Paris: J. Hetzel and Librairie Firmin Didot Freres et Fils.

STRACHAN, W. J., 1987. Le livre d’artiste. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and Taylor Institution.

WEBER-FEVE, S., 2010. (Re)Displaying Femininity and Home with Annie Ernaux and Simone De Beauvoir. In: WEBER-FEVE, S., Re-hybridizing transnational domesticity and femininity: women’s contemporary filmmaking and lifewriting in France, Algeria, and Tunisia. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Online

BEATTIE, S., 2015. The owls are not what they seem…. [Online] Victoria & Albert Museum. [Jun 1, 2017]. Available: http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/factory-presents/the-owls-are-not-what-they-seem.

KONINKLIJKE BIBLIOTHEEK. La femme rompue [Online] Koninklijke Bibliotheek. [20 April, 2017]. Available: https://www.kb.nl/en.

Further reading

JOHANKNECHT, S. et al., 2007. [Artist’s books: Special issue]. Art libraries journal, 32 (2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

350th anniversary of the Raid of the Medway

My primary school in the Netherlands was excellent, especially with regard to history lessons. So I was taught, like most Dutch school children were and are, about the heroic deeds of Admiral Michiel Adriaensz. De Ruyter. Michiel de Ruyter led the Dutch fleet up the Thames, I learned, breaking the chain that the English had placed across the river, thereby defeating the English and winning the second Anglo-Dutch sea-war in 1667.

This feat is commemorated this year, so I decided to investigate the events in a little more detail by reading some contemporary accounts. To my surprise the chain was not placed across the Thames but across the Medway; and, of course, the Dutch did not sail up it to London, but to Rochester (see modern map below). Last but not least: from our sources it appears that the chain was not broken, but ‘sailed over’, perhaps because it was far enough below water level. Other sources, not discussed here, may contradict this sequence of events, but the English were defeated in the second Anglo-Dutch war; that is a historical fact.

My primary school teacher clearly had not read these contemporary accounts of the achievements of the Dutch fleet. If he (not she!) had done so, he would have been able to tell us that Dutch narrators of the period were not very familiar with English river names, and mainly referred to the Thames as ‘river by London’ and the Medway as ‘river by Rochester’ thus confusing Dutch school children 300 years later.

Our teacher would have told us that since De Ruyter was the Admiral of the Dutch fleet, he did not cut through the chain himself, but that it was the brave captain Brakel who ‘sailed over’ the chain and managed to negotiate his way between the ships, deliberately sunk by the English to close off the Medway, and sail all the way to Rochester. Brakel and the Dutch fleet then captured and set fire to various royal ships, including the Royal Charles, and captured Upnor Castle, all of this depicted in this etching from Het leven en bedryf van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter….beschreeven door Gerard Brandt (1687).

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18 (p.574-575)

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18 (p.574-575)

Title page of Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

A couple of other sources (below) have helped me to get a slightly more realistic picture of what happened in June 1667.[1]  These are accounts of the lives of Cornelis (and Johan) de Witt. The States of Holland (the Government) sent Cornelis de Witt with Michiel de Ruyter to England to report back on any achievements of the fleet in the war against England. Some of De Witt’s letters to the States of Holland are published in both volumes and can be regarded as ‘eye witness reports’. All three of my sources report on the River Medway’s chain; here is one example from Leeven en Dood der doorlugtige heeren gebroeders Cornelis de Witt en Johan de Witt (Life and death of the eminent brothers Cornelis de Witt and Johan de Witt). The (in)famous chain, intended to stop the Dutch, is mentioned on p.133:

’s Woensdags zynde den 22 juny […] zylde de Capitein Brakel […] vooraf, ende over de ketting, die de Engelsche op de Rivier met paalen ter weder zyden vast gemaakt, en gespannen hadden’

(On Wednesday 22nd June […] Captain Brakel sailed […] in front over the chain which the English had put across the river, attached to poles either side)

My school teacher was right to portray De Ruyter as a hero since he was regarded as such at the time:  Both De Ruyter and De Witt were bestowed with specially engraved golden cups in recognition of their achievements in the Anglo-Dutch war, as reported in Historisch Verhael en politique bedenckingen aengaende de bestieringe van Staet- en Oorloghs-Saken: voor-gevallen onder de bedieningen van de Heeren Cornelis en Johan de Witt (1677). The States had given orders for the fleet to set sail for the ‘River of London’ (p.365). On p.394-395 the ‘Goude Koppen’ (golden cups) are mentioned.

This part of the second Anglo-Dutch war, well-known in the Netherlands, is being commemorated this summer with a programme of events in Chatham and London. This includes the exhibition ‘Breaking the Chain’ at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, which vividly brings to life the story of the Battle of Medway with collections from The Royal Museum Greenwich, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Dutch National Maritime Museum, the Michiel de Ruyter Foundation and the British Library.

Dr Johanneke Sytsema, Subject Consultant for Linguistics, Dutch and Frisian

[1] I have limited my investigations to materials available in the Taylor Institution Library.

References

Het leven en bedryf van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter….beschreeven door Gerard Brandt. 16261685.
Amsterdam : Wolfgang, Waasberge, Boom, Van Someren en Goethals, 1685.
Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

Historisch Verhael en politique bedenckingen aengaende de bestieringe van Staet-en Oorloghs-Saken, : voor-gevallen onder de bedieningen van de Heeren Cornelis en Johan de Witt. Beginnende A⁰. 1653. en eyndigende in het Jaer 1672. met hunne Doot. t’Amsterdam, : By J. H. B., 1677.
Taylor Institution Library 167.A.13

Leeven en Dood der doorlugtige heeren gebroeders Cornelis de Witt en Johan de Witt. (Life and death of the eminent brothers Cornelis de Witt and Johan de Witt. Amsterdam : J. ten Hoorn, 1705.
Taylor Institution Library 167.D.5

More documents on the British Library blog http://blogs.bl.uk/european/2017/04/the-dutch-are-coming.html

For Commemorative events please visit the site of the Historic Dockyard in Chatham http://thedockyard.co.uk/whats-on/battle-of-medway-commemoration/ and http://new.medway.gov.uk/news-and-events/bom

Royals, Writers and Musicians: Highlights of the Peyton-Harding Collection

Readers who use the Taylorian’s German collections might have come across rare books and manuscripts whose shelfmarks begin with ‘Fiedler’.  Considering the incredible breadth and value of the Fiedler Collection for the study of German literature from the last five hundred years or so, it is hardly surprising to learn that the donor was a distinguished Professor of German.  Hermann Georg Fiedler served as Chair of Oxford’s German department from 1907 until 1937, leading the department through the challenges of the First World War and supervising the construction of the extension, along St. Giles’,  of the Taylorian’s Teaching Collection (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004).  Today he is commemorated with a large bust.

Bust of Prof. Fiedler at the Taylor Institution.

Bust of Prof. Fiedler at the Taylor Institution.

               Less well-known than Fiedler’s Germanic acquisitions and less publicly apparent than the bust, however, is the stunning collection of autographs assembled by his family during the nineteenth century.  After their donation to the Taylorian by Fiedler’s daughter, Herma, during the 1960s (Sutherland, 1970: i), these manuscripts had lain relatively quietly in our Rare Books Room, until an email enquiry from a Danish academic caused them to be taken out and re-examined in 2017.  Many library staff had not encountered the manuscripts before, so there was great excitement at the discovery of just how many household names had given samples of their handwriting to fill the pages.

               The manuscripts are stored in five boxes (shelfmarks MS.8o.E.17-MS.8o.E.21) and are referred to as the Peyton-Harding Collection, in recognition of Herma Fiedler’s relatives, who collected most of the autographs.  Fiedler had met his wife, Ethel Harding, when she was a pupil of his at the University of Birmingham in the late nineteenth century (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004).  Ethel’s father, Charles Harding, was a highly influential solicitor and philanthropist who funded many initiatives including scholarships at the University and served regularly on organising committees for the Birmingham Music Festival (Carley, 2006: 226).  Charles Harding’s younger daughter, Emily, was married to a wealthy businessman named Richard Peyton (Harding Family Tree (Detailed), 2017).  As a passionate music aficionado, Peyton chaired the Birmingham Festival and financed the University’s Chair of Music position (on condition that his friend, Sir Edward Elgar, took on the role) (Moore, 1999: 446).  With their widespread musical, academic and social connections, the Peyton, Harding and Fiedler families were well situated to build an autograph collection showcasing some of the most illustrious names of their time.

               This blog post is necessarily limited to covering just a few of the highlights of the collection, but any registered reader interested by what follows can ask to see the boxes by filling in a request slip at the Taylorian Enquiry Desk.

Queen Victoria’s Poignant Thanks (MS.8o.E.17, p.1)

The collection begins in spectacular fashion: the first letter you see when opening the first box was written by Queen Victoria.  On Windsor Castle headed notepaper, it addresses an open message of thanks to the women of the United Kingdom for funding a statue in memory of the late Prince Albert.  As the date of the letter is 22nd June 1887, the day chosen for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, it would seem that the statue referred to is the equestrian statue of Albert in Windsor Great Park (Roberts, 1997: 379).

The statue of Prince Albert funded by UK women to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee (1887) | © Copyright Alan Hunt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The statue of Prince Albert funded by UK women to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee (1887) |
© Copyright Alan Hunt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

               Women across the UK had been given a leaflet inviting them to contribute between a penny and a pound to a Jubilee gift of the Queen’s choice, ‘in token of loyalty, affection, and reverence towards the only female sovereign who, for fifty years, [had] borne the toils and troubles of public life, known the sorrows that fall to all women, and as a wife, mother, widow, and ruler, [had] held up a bright and spotless example to her own and all other nations’ (Boucherett et al. (eds)., 1979: 82).  It is poignant to think that the same Queen who had been too grief-stricken by her husband’s death to celebrate her Silver Jubilee, and had kept a strict regime of mourning for many years, chose to mark one of the few public occasions of her later life through a statue of Albert.

Hans Christian Andersen’s African Reverie (MS.8o.E.18, p.64)

A highlight of the second box in the collection is undoubtedly Hans Christian Andersen’s meticulously presented extract from his 1864 travelogue In Spain (translated into English by Mrs Anna S. Bushby).  Andersen is of course best known for his fairy tales, which include The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen.  However, he was also an enthusiastic writer of plays, poetry and non-fiction.  In Spain is his diary of an extended tour of the Iberian country, punctuated by few days’ stay in Tangier, Morocco, with his friends the Drummond Hay family, representatives of the English and Danish governments (Andersen, 1864: 189).

               Despite accounting for only one chapter of the book, Andersen’s time in Africa is an emotional high-point of his journey.  Before the extract acquired for the Peyton-Harding collection, he writes ‘Delightful, never to be forgotten days did I pass [in Tangier], forming a new and rich leaf in the story of my life’ (Andersen, 1864: 183).  After a varied programme of exploration, he concludes the chapter by asserting that ‘Our sojourn on the African coast had been the most interesting part of our travels hitherto’ (Andersen, 1864: 205).

               The Peyton-Harding handwritten extract (which corresponds with parts of pp.87-88 in the 1864 printed version) depicts a rare, sombre moment on the balcony of the Drummond Hays’ villa.  Andersen lights a cigar and finds his thoughts being led towards some of the darker aspects of Africa’s past.  He imagines a girl picking tobacco in Cuba, ‘a kings [sic] daughter from hot Africa, now a slave in a larg [sic] West India island.’   In his mind’s eye, the girl sheds a tear in remembrance of her African childhood, which soaks into the tobacco leaf she is holding, and remains embedded there as the leaf is transformed into Andersen’s own cigar.  From the lit cigar, the tear ‘freed itself’ in the smoke, ‘it raised itself in its fatherland, and flew over the Atlas Mountains to the unknown inner region.  The soul in the tear was at liberty in thoughts [sic] homeland.’  This poetic expression of the cruelty and unfairness of the slave trade reflects a concern which Andersen had already explored in his 1840 play The Mulatto, and which evidently still haunted him (Zipes, 2005: 21).

The Andersen manuscript and accompanying printed portrait of Andersen (Taylorian MS.8o.E.18, p.64)

The Andersen manuscript and accompanying printed portrait of Andersen (Taylorian MS.8o.E.18, p.64)

Jenny Lind’s Glamorous Lifestyle (MS.8o.E.17, pp.44-45)

A note in the first box from the highly successful Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind is not only an evocative piece of memorabilia in its own right, but also makes an interesting point of comparison with the Andersen manuscript.  After meeting Lind in the early 1840s and corresponding with her, Andersen developed a level of adoration for her that has led his biographers to agree unanimously that she was his ‘great, unrequited love’ and ‘a loyal and recurring figure’ in the fantasy worlds he portrayed through his writing (Andersen, 2005: 312).  She never reciprocated his feelings, but he continued to think of her and kept a bust of her in his home until his death (Andersen, 2005: 312).

               The letter in the Peyton-Harding collection seems illustrative of how widespread such admiration for Lind was among her audiences.  Dated 4th December 1850, when Lind was touring the USA under the management of famous showman PT Barnum (Rosenberg, 1851), it is addressed to an unspecified ‘Sir’ but its purpose is to pass on thanks to a ‘Mr Peacock’ for ‘two dresses…of beautiful manufacture’ that he had given her.  She promises gratefully that she will wear them on stage ‘in kind remembrance of the Donor.’

               An eyewitness account of the US tour describes how Lind was inundated with similar gifts, as well as messages and visits from fans.  They arrived at the rate of literally ‘one every other minute’, to the point that Lind felt at times as if she were being ‘torn to pieces’ by the clamour of attention (Rosenberg, 1851: 72-73).  For her US audiences, she was clearly one of the most exciting celebrities of the time.

The Lind manuscript, with accompanying photo and envelope (Taylorian MS.8o.E.17, pp.44-45)

The Lind manuscript, with accompanying photo and envelope (Taylorian MS.8o.E.17, pp.44-45)

Professor Fiedler’s German Travels with the Future Edward VIII (MS.8o.E.19, pp.42-45)

The third box of autographs holds some memories more personal to the Peyton and Harding families, as Professor Fiedler’s letters home from a very important trip to Germany are preserved in this box.  Between 1912 and 1914, Fiedler was German tutor to Edward, Prince of Wales (1894-1972), an undergraduate at Magdalen College, who would be crowned as King Edward VIII, abdicating eleven months later in order to be able to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson).  The young Prince had the opportunity to improve his language skills by visiting Germany in spring and summer 1913, and Fiedler went with him (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004).

               Fiedler’s letters, which are addressed to his sister-in-law Mrs Peyton, demonstrate both a great fondness for the Prince and a reverence for the glamorous world of royalty.  On 28th March 1913, he refers to Edward affectionately as ‘our Prince’, and claims that ‘He is such a dear fellow’, who often confides in Fiedler privately.  The two in fact remained in contact long after the tuition arrangement was over (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004).  Mixed with the feelings of warm friendship, however, one can also sense Fiedler’s awe at the regal lifestyle.  In his letter of 28th March, he relates how Edward ‘wore his [ceremonial] Garter at dinner and looked splendid’.  In an earlier letter (23rd March 1913), he eagerly lists all the German dignitaries the pair have met or are due to meet, and excitedly concludes by saying that he ‘must hurry back’ to their party.  In hindsight, there is a very poignant side to the Easter festivities Edward enjoyed with his German counterparts, as the two countries went to war with each other only a year later.

               Perhaps the most exclusive souvenir of the trip, however, is a short note to Professor Fiedler written by the Prince himself to demonstrate his (somewhat novice) German language skills (see transcription and English translation below).

The future Edward VIII's note in German to Professor Fiedler (Taylorian MS.8o.E.19, p.43)

The future Edward VIII’s note in German to Professor Fiedler (Taylorian MS.8o.E.19, p.43)

Für Professor Fiedler

Würden Sie gern um 8 uhr einen Spatziergang machen bis 9 uhr? Nur wenn es nicht zu früh ist.  Ich habe das Frühstück um 9 uhr bestellt für drei.

E

To Professor Fiedler

Would you like to go for a walk from 8 o’clock until 9?  Only if it isn’t too early. I have ordered breakfast for three at 9 o’clock.

E

Misunderstandings with George Bernard Shaw and Algernon Charles Swinburne (MS.8o.E.21/B)

The fifth and final box is organised differently from the others: the manuscripts do not have individual page numbers, but instead are grouped into categories according to the occupations of their writers.  Group B (‘English Writers’) contains two somewhat amusing examples of mishaps in Professor Fiedler’s academic career.

               In 1928, George Bernard Shaw was already a Nobel Prize laureate who had written some of the most renowned plays of his time – including, arguably, his most enduring work, Pygmalion, which is still frequently performed today and was the inspiration for the musical My Fair Lady (Frenz (ed.), 1969: 229).  Unfortunately, he did not feel that his abilities extended so far as to allow him to comment on writers from abroad.  His note to the Taylorian, dated 15th May 1928, states in a rather alarmed and curt manner that it is not his job to give a lecture at the Taylorian, because he does not speak a word of Norwegian. Presumably he had been invited to speak on Ibsen.

               In 1901, meanwhile, it seems that Professor Fiedler was misled by the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne.  As an adult, Swinburne became associated with passionate and erotic poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2017), but he reveals in the letter below that his youthful intellectual interests were focused elsewhere.  Dated 12th February 1901, it reads, ‘Dear Sir, I am quite sorry you have had so much trouble about Maistre Gaget.  I must confess that he & his book, as well as the legend of the leper, were pure inventions of my own at a rather early age, when I was fond of trying my hand at imitations of mediaeval French prose & Latin verse. Yours apologetically, A C Swinburne. ‘

The manuscript by Swinburne (Taylorian MS.8o.E.21/B)

The manuscript by Swinburne (Taylorian MS.8o.E.21/B)

As mentioned above, this post covers only a small selection from a large and wide-ranging collection.  The Peyton, Harding and Fiedler families managed to collect many more fascinating items that cannot be included here, such as handwritten staves of music by Sir Edward Elgar, Edvard Grieg, Antonín Dvorák, Franz Lizst and Sir Arthur Sullivan; the signatures of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Rudyard Kipling; and various notes and calling cards from political and military luminaries of the time.  The collection is well worth exploring further and the Taylorian is certainly fortunate to be its owner. 

————–

Jessica Woodward
Formerly Graduate Trainee at the Taylorian, now Assistant Librarian at Mansfield College.

References

Primary Source

Peyton, Harding and Fiedler families (19th C.) Peyton-Harding Autograph Collection. Donated to the library by Herma Fiedler. [Taylorian MS.8o.E.17-21]

Secondary Sources

Andersen, H. C. (1864) In Spain, tr. by Mrs. Bushby. London: [publisher unknown]. [Bodleian (OC) 203 c.261]

Andersen, J. (2005) Hans Christian Andersen: a new life. New York and London: Overlook Duckworth. [Bodleian M07.E05693]

Boucherett, E. J. et al (eds.) (1979) The Englishwoman’s review (of social and industrial questions). New York: Garland Publishing.  [Available online via SOLO]

Carley, L. (2006) Edvard Grieg in England. Woodbridge: Boydell. [Bodleian M06.E11817]

Frenz, H. (ed.) (1969) Literature 1901-1967. Amsterdam and New York: published for the Nobel Foundation by Elsevier Publishing Company. [Bodleian 3961 d.157]

Harding, N. (2017) Harding Family Tree (Detailed). [Available online at https://sites.google.com/site/hardingofpackington/home/family-tree-detailed#_Toc307562807] Accessed 12th May 2017.

Moore, J. N. (1999) Edward Elgar: a creative life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Bodleian Lower Gladstone Link M99.E10357]

Santini, D. (2004)  ‘Fiedler, Hermann Georg’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Access online, from within the University network, via SOLO]

Roberts, J. (1997) Royal landscape: the gardens and parks of Windsor. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. [Bodleian Lower Gladstone Link M98.A01556]

Rosenberg, C. G. (1851) Jenny Lind in America. New York: Stringer & Townsend. [Available online via SOLO]

Sutherland, D. M. (1970) Catalogue of autograph material acquired by the library during the years 1950-1970. Oxford: Taylor Institution. [Taylorian ZA.2226.6 / REF.M.1.C]

Zipes, J. (2005) Hans Christian Andersen: the misunderstood storyteller. New York and London: Routledge. [Bodleian M06.F03880]

Identities in Transit: Portuguese Women Artists since 1950

The Taylor Institution Library has mounted an exhibition (10-24 March 2017, subsequently extended to 31 March) to accompany the conference Transnational Portuguese Women Artists (Wadham College, 16-18 March 2017). The exhibition is curated by Dr Maria Luísa Coelho, Joanne Ferrari and Jessica Woodward. The exhibition catalogue is available here.

The purpose of the exhibition is to highlight the significant contribution of Portuguese women artists to Portuguese culture and beyond, from the perspective of their experiences, works, contacts and, ultimately, their impact within the transnational context. It focuses on a group of women who, from the 1950s, have created a wide-ranging body of work whilst living for extended periods outside Portugal. During their time abroad, these women established relationships and collaborations not only with other expatriate Portuguese artists but also with a wider European artistic community. The Taylorian’s exhibition displays publications primarily held by the Taylor Institution Library, showing the artistic production of Lourdes Castro, Menez, Paula Rego, Maria Velho da Costa and Ana Hatherly. The material on view highlights the tension between the terms roots and routes while also suggesting the connections between different moments and places, and the creation of identities in transit.

Snapshot of one exhibition case showing works by Paula Rego and Maria Velho da Costa.

Snapshot of one exhibition case showing works by Paula Rego and Maria Velho da Costa.

Lourdes Castro

Born in Madeira, in 1930, Lourdes Castro moved to Lisbon in 1950 and, following her expulsion (for “non-conformity”) from the Escola Superior de Belas Artes, she relocated to Munich in 1957 and then Paris in 1958. There, Castro was in close contact with the celebrated couple Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Árpád Szenes. It was in Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years, that she co-founded the experimental group KWY with her husband René Bertholo and a number of other artists. (The letters K, W and Y were considered ‘foreign’ to Portuguese by the spelling reforms of 1943.)  During this period, the artist often visited London and met other Portuguese expatriates.

Lourdes Castro, exhibition catalogue, Galeria 111, Lisbon, c. 1970, with a poem by Helder Macedo; Lourdes Castro and Manuel Zimbro, “As Cinco Estações” (from “Teatro de Sombras”), performance held at Teatro Municipal do Funchal, Funchal, 14-15.07.1977

Lourdes Castro, exhibition catalogue, Galeria 111, Lisbon, c. 1970, with a poem by Helder Macedo; Lourdes Castro and Manuel Zimbro, “As Cinco Estações” (from “Teatro de Sombras”), performance held at Teatro Municipal do Funchal, Funchal, 14-15.07.1977

Lourdes Castro has developed a considerable body of work focusing on the shadow, through which she reassesses the relationship between the aesthetic object and its surrounding world. In 1962 she began working on her ‘projected shadow’ works. Beginning with collaged objects these developed into paintings of Castro’s and her friends’ projected shadows. From 1966 onwards – and in collaboration with Manuel Zimbro – Castro also formed the Teatro Ambulante de Sombras (Travelling Theatre of Shadows). Despite her development of this performative art form outside of Portugal Castro’s interest in radical experimentation is clearly rooted in the Portuguese avant-garde. Another avenue of exploration of the shadow was the ‘inventory’, for example O Grande Herbário de Sombras (1972), (“The Great Herbarium of Shadows”, a collection of shadows of botanical specimens). This herbarium reveals Castro’s profound interest in nature, a major influencing factor in her decision to return to Madeira in 1983.

Menez

Menez (1926-1995) had an exceptionally cosmopolitan existence. Although she did not undertake any formal artistic training, her travels and privileged background (which she shared, to a certain extent, with the other artists featured in this exhibition) allowed her to pursue an artistic career and overcome many of the constraints imposed on Portuguese women by the dictatorial regime of Oliveira Salazar.

The artist’s first exhibition was held at Galeria de Março, Lisbon, in 1954, and showed a collection of Menez’s gouaches selected by the poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Menez remained a close friend of Sophia and other major Portuguese writers and artists such as Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Júlio Pomar, Mário Cesariny and António Ramos Rosa.

Despite the influence of the Paris School in her early work and her debt to Vieira da Silva, Menez chose to use a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation (1964-65 and 1969) to move to London. There, she was in contact with other cultural and aesthetic trends, and also became a central and often admired figure in the Portuguese expatriate milieu: she formed long-lasting friendships with the writers Alberto de Lacerda and Helder Macedo and the artists Victor Willing and Paula Rego. As a whole, her body of work is defined by a continuous process of change.

Exhibition catalogue, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, November-December 1990

Menez, exhibition catalogue, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, November-December 1990. Image shows: (25) Os Antepassados (1966), (26) Henrique VIII (1966), (28) Sem Título (Retrato de Mário Chicó) (1961), (27) Sem Título (Retrato de Arpad) (25.12.1961), (30) Sem Título (Auto-retrato) (25.12.1961), (29) Sem Título (Retrato de M. H. Vieira da Silva) (1961)

Paula Rego

Dame Paula Rego (1935-) was born in Lisbon. In 1951 she moved to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art and became immersed in a lively artistic community attuned to creative activities around the world. She formed strong and close relationships with other Portuguese artists and writers living in London while never losing touch with developments back in Portugal. Rego returned to Portugal in 1957, where she lived intermittently with her husband, the British painter Victor Willing (1928-1988), and their three children. Partly prompted by the Portuguese revolution in 1974, the family returned permanently to London in 1976.

Rego’s transcultural position is reflected in her work, clearly evidenced through the influence of her Portuguese heritage as well as the impact of her life in London. Through this patchwork of references, Rego addresses the recurrent themes of asymmetric power relations and gendered experiences, as she revisits the national, religious and sexual politics of the country she left behind. She is not only one of the most respected artists working in Britain today, but also a household name in Portugal. In 2009, a museum dedicated to her work –­ Casa das Histórias ­– opened in Cascais. She continues to exhibit regularly both in Portugal and in Britain.

Photograph of Paula Rego painting Crivelli’s Garden at the National Gallery, while Artist in Residence, 1990 (source: Nicholas Willing)

Photograph of Paula Rego painting Crivelli’s Garden at the National Gallery, while Artist in Residence, 1990 (source: Nicholas Willing)

Maria Velho da Costa

Maria Velho da Costa (1938- ) is one of Portugal’s most experimental contemporary writers, perhaps best known to an international readership as one of the authors of New Portuguese Letters (Novas cartas portuguesas, Lisbon: Estúdios Cor, 1972). Her work is imbued with a spirit of de-centering and de-territorialisation through the creation of diverse characters, worlds, realities and dimensions that nevertheless coexist or intersect. Through continually pushing the boundaries of literary genres, she explores the possibilities of language in dialogue with other artistic media such as music and the visual arts. This de-centering process is also a reflection of the locations she has chosen to spend time in: she was briefly in Guinea-Bissau in 1973; in 1980 she moved to London, where she worked for about six years as Portuguese leitora at King’s College; after that she was appointed cultural attaché in Cape Verde (1988-89).

During her time in England Velho da Costa wrote and published the novel Lúcialima (1983) whose cover was illustrated by Paula Rego; and the compilation O Mapa Cor de Rosa: Cartas de Londres (1984), about life in London in the early 1980s. More recent works, such as Madame (2000) and Myra (2008) continue to display physical or psychological accounts marked by an interest in otherness and the intersecting of different worlds, realities and languages; they also show her collaborations with visual artists.

Maria Velho da Costa, Lúcialima (Lisbon: O Jornal, April 1983), cover by Paula Rego

Lúcialima, Maria Velho da Costa (Lisbon: O Jornal, April 1983), cover by Paula Rego

Ana Hatherly

Ana Hatherly (1929-2015) was born in Porto, moving to Lisbon at an early age. After undertaking formal musical training in Portugal, France and Germany, she took a degree in Modern Languages at the University of Lisbon. She then enrolled at the London International Film School (1971-74) and subsequently moved to the United States where she completed a doctorate in Golden Age Hispanic Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ana Hatherly, Dessins, Collages et Papiers Peints (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: Lisbon, 2005), exhibition catalogue, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 6-15.12.2005

Ana Hatherly, Dessins, Collages et Papiers Peints (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: Lisbon, 2005), exhibition catalogue, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 6-15.12.2005

A clear focus of Hatherly’s oeuvre is the relationship between word and image, already evident in her early works, produced while living in London. Her output from this period also exhibits the influence of Pop Art, a strong connection with the concrete-experimental movement, and her adoption of the collage technique. The artist’s visual exploration of text evolved into her visual poems, informed by her academic research on baroque poetry. In 1959 she began experimenting with concrete poetry. She soon became one of the leading figures in the Portuguese Experimental Poetry group, regularly contributing to avant-garde journals, edited collections and group exhibitions in Portugal and abroad.

 

 

 

————————————-

Dr Maria Luísa Coelho
FCT Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oxford/ Universidade do Minho

You can also see two videos of Maria Luísa and Luis Amorim de Sousa introducing and discussing the exhibition (links below, courtesy of Prof. Henrike Laehnemann).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39j-y_lXNL0&feature=youtu.be

https://twitter.com/OxfordModLangs/status/842791976588230657

Gysbert Japicx and the Junius collection

2016 marked the 350th anniversary of the death of the Frisian poet Gysbert Japicx (1603 – 1666). Seventeenth-century Frisia’s principal poet, Gysbert Japicx was crucial in preserving Frisian as a written language and in developing a Frisian spelling standard. His language is usually referred to as Middle Frisian (17th-18th century) although one could also call it Early Modern Frisian.

The earliest and most important items for the study of Gysbert Japicx’s oeuvre are held in the Junius Collection in the Bodleian Library. This unique collection includes the only known manuscript of his work, the poem Wobbelke and two extremely rare and fragile copies of ‘De Friessche Tjerne, ofte bortlijcke rijmlerye’: all three items are in Japicx’s own hand and were published anonymously in 1640.

Life and work

Gysbert Japicx was a school teacher and a poet in Boalsert, Fryslân (a province in the north of the Netherlands).  His first publication was the Friessche Tjerne, a rhyming text written for the entertainment of guests at a wedding. This type of publication was probably not meant to last, which may explain the poor quality of the paper and the fragile state of extant copies. His main work Friesche Rymlerye, published posthumously in 1668, contains mainly poetry and rhyming prose and also a few psalms. The oldest printed copy in Oxford is the 1821 edition held by the Taylorian.

Gysbert Japicx, Friesche Rymlerye. Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Gysbert Japicx, Friesche Rymlerye. Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Among Japicx’s earliest manuscripts held by the Bodleian is an early version of the touching lovesong Wobbelke, in Japicx’s own hand, presumably written for the love of his life whom he later married. This is the only poem in Gysbert Japicx’s own hand; all the other poems are copied from originals by Franciscus Junius.  Close-up images of these manuscripts can be seen in one of Omrop Fryslân’s (Frisian Television) documentaries on Gysbert Japicx. I had the honour to comment on camera. (The programme can be viewed at http://www.npo.nl/fryslan-dok/19-11-2016/POW_02993273.) The manuscripts are shown approximately five minutes into the programme. The manuscript poems in the Bodleian Library were edited and provided with an English commentary by Alistair Campbell, (Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,1963-1974) who bequeathed his Frisian collection to the Taylor Institution Library.

Gysbert Japicx: The Oxford Text of Four Poems by Alistair Campbell Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

Gysbert Japicx: The Oxford Text of Four Poems by Alistair Campbell. Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

Gysbert Japicx has been hugely influential for the development of Frisian as a written language. He began writing in Frisian after a nearly one hundred year gap in which hardly any Frisian was written – the last charter in Old Frisian was written around 1550 – so head to invent a new spelling system as there was no previous one he could build on. The process of designing a new orthography was a gradual one. His earliest publication, De Friessche Tjerne, represents the first phase of development of a spelling standard of 17th century Frisian. The next phase is found in Junius’ handwritten copies of Japicx’s work, which in turn differs from the spelling used in the final publication of poems Rymlerye in 1668. The orthography developed by Japicx has been of great importance to the Frisian writing tradition and it was followed until the early 19th century.

Gysbert Japicx (1603-1666) and Franciscus Junius (1591-1677)

It is generally assumed that Junius visited Japicx to learn Frisian. This assumption is supported by the Japicx manuscripts, where we find both Japicx’s and Junius’ handwriting together.

The Japicx material consists of two manuscripts in the Junius collection, MS. Junius 115a and MS. Junius 122. MS. 115a is Junius’ glossary of Old Germanic. At the end of MS. 115a, after the glossary, some smaller pages are bound into the manuscript which contain poems by Gysbert Japicx in Junius’ hand. The big surprise is the inserted folio which has Japicx’s most well known poem Wobbelke. This piece of paper holds an early handwritten version of the poem with corrections by the author.

Wobbelke, MS. Junius 115a, f.527v

Wobbelke, MS. Junius 115a, f.527v

On the front of this page (f.527r), both Japicx’s and Junius’ hands are found, an indication that Junius did indeed visit Japicx to learn Frisian.  Japicx has written the days of the week in Frisian with Dutch translation, presumably for Junius’ benefit. Junius has written numerals in Frisian, perhaps dictated by Japicx, as might be expected of a Frisian language learner. His next task was copying Japicx’s poems. It is fortunate that he did so, since Junius’ copies are the only handwritten copies of those poems that survive.

MS. Junius 115a, f.527r

MS. Junius 115a, f.527r

The other manuscript is MS. Junius 122, containing two rare copies of his De Friessche Tjerne, glued into the manuscript above each other. Both versions were printed in 1640. On the second of these the publication details (in Dutch!) are accompanied by a translation into Frisian in Gysbert Japicx’s hand.

De Friessche Tjerne, MS. Junius 122

De Friessche Tjerne, MS. Junius 122

How did these manuscripts end up in the Junius collection in Oxford rather than in a Frisian Library? This has everything to do with Junius’ interest in Germanic languages. Born in Heidelberg, Junius was raised in the Netherlands and spent major parts of his adult life in England. He studied Frisian as a Germanic language before concentrating on Gothic and Old High German.  He began his Germanic studies by learning Frisian during his stay in Fryslan between 1646 and1648, where he visited Gysbert Japicx. Looking for a Frisian tutor, there was not a lot of choice: in the mid 1640s Japicx appeared to be the only one who was able to write Frisian. Copying texts, such as Japicx’s poems, seemed to be Junius’ method of learning a language. He took his copies with him when he returned to England, and spent the last two years of his life in Oxford. Junius knew Bodley’s Librarian, and before his death in November 1677 he gave his collection to the Bodleian Library. So the Junius collection is a donation rather than a bequest, as shown from the ‘deed of gift’ in the Bodleian archives.

Junius’ deed of gift, witnessed by Tho(mas) Marshall and Obad(iah) Walker. Library Records c. 1158, fol. 3r (detail), with thanks to Theodora Boorman, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Junius’ deed of gift, witnessed by Tho(mas) Marshall and Obad(iah) Walker.
Library Records c. 1158, fol. 3r (detail), with thanks to Theodora Boorman, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Dr Johanneke Sytsema, Subject Consultant for Linguistics, Dutch and Frisian

Bibliography

Munske, Horst Haider and Nils Århammar (eds). 2001. Handbuch des Friesischen= Handbook of Frisian studies. Tübingen : Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Taylor Institution Library PF1413 HAN 2001

Bremmer, Rolf H. (ed). 1998. Franciscus Junius F.F. and his circle. Amsterdam : Rodopi.

Taylor Institution Library DUTCH.146905.A.1

Sipma, P. 1932. Friessche tjerne, Gysbert Japicx ; mei ynleiding en oantekeningen fen P. Sipma. Boalsert : A.J. Osinga.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.7

Japicx, Gysbert. 1821.  Friesche rijmlerye. 3. Druwck. op nijz trognoaze in forbettere trog E. Epkema. (3rd edition, checked again and corrected by E.Epkema). Ljeauwert : J. Proost.

Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Japicx, Gysbert. Frieske rymlerije, yn trije delen forskaet : d’earste binne: Ljeafd en bortlike mingeldeutjes; ‘t oarde sinte: Gemiene ef Husmannepetaer en oare kalterije; ‘t efterste is Himelsk Harplud; dat is to sizzen utylike fen Davids Psalmen.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.4

Feitsma, Antonia.1956. Frysk ut de 17de ieu : teksten en fragminten. Estrikken 15. Grins : Frysk Ynstitút oan de R.U. to Grins.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.SER.1/11

Japicx, Gysbert. 1948. The Oxford text of four poems. Edition with a complete glossary by Alistair Campbell. Bolsward : A.J. Osinga.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

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