New York, NY, April 18, 2014— The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford holds one of the greatest collections of books and manuscripts in the world. Marks of Genius: Treasures from the Bodleian Library, on view at the Morgan Library & Museum from June 6 to September 14, celebrates more than two thousand years of the creative genius of authors, composers, artists, scientists, and philosophers preserved in the library’s rich holdings. The exhibition includes items from cultures the world over and ranges from a papyrus fragment of a seventh-century B.C. Sappho poem to a copy of Magna Carta dating to 1217 to key works by novelist Jane Austen. 

The idea of genius has always been difficult to define and its usefulness has at times been challenged. Nevertheless, the belief in its existence—as a kind of yardstick with which to measure the historical value of human achievement—has informed the building of the collections of the Bodleian and the Morgan Library & Museum.  Marks of Genius speaks to the many forms the idea can take, highlighting not only the creativity of the conventional “solitary genius,” but also important innovations undertaken as collaborative efforts. At the heart of the exhibition of almost sixty objects is the notion of genius as being broadly infused across all human endeavor.

The Bodleian Library was founded in 1602 by Sir Thomas Bodley, a diplomat under Queen Elizabeth I, to serve the University of Oxford and the international “republic of the learned.” In 1610 Bodley arranged an agreement with the Stationer’s Company which allowed the Library to receive copies “of all new Books”. This marks the beginning of the legal deposit and today the institution remains entitled to a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Its cornerstone holdings include opulent medieval manuscripts, such as the fourteenth-century Romance of Alexander, a 1623 “copyright copy” of the Shakespeare First Folio, and part of Jane Austen’s unpublished novel, The Watsons, one of the author’s few existing manuscripts, of which the Morgan owns the other part. 

“The Bodleian and the Morgan have a long history of cooperation and we are delighted to present this exceptional selection of objects from its collection,” said William M. Griswold, Director of the Morgan. “True genius is a rare and extraordinary thing. The works in this show underscore the fact that genius knows no boundaries of time, place, or culture.”

Richard Ovenden, the Bodleian’s Librarian, said, “The genius of libraries has been the preservation of the records of human civilisation. The Bodleian is proud to partner with the Morgan to bring some of the greatest of these records to New York to share with the public, through our Marks of Genius show.”

THE EXHIBITION

Section I.  Spirit of Place

The spirit of a place or group, which is sometimes called “genius loci,” is embodied through maps, travel accounts, and historic documents. The spirit of a nation or people can be seen in the heavily illustrated Codex Mendoza, a first-hand, historical account of Aztec Civilization produced by the Spanish colonizers around 1541, as well as one of the oldest extant copies of Magna Carta, the great English charter of freedoms, which represents the English nation much as the Declaration of Independence does the United States. Also included in this section are a six-foot-long manuscript map of the Holy Land from the late 1300s and the first map of the Virginia Colony by explorer John Smith.

Section II: Touch of Genius

Works in this section include Handel’s conductor’s score for Messiah used at the first performance, Moses Maimonides’s draft notes for the Mishneh Torah, and Mary Shelley’s manuscript for Frankenstein, with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s corrections. Other objects gain authority because of their association with a historically important person. The more exceptional the individual, the more highly we value manuscripts they wrote or things they owned. Included are two books touched by legendary queens: the fourteen-year-old Elizabeth I translated a French text into English and dedicated the document to her step-mother, Katherine Parr; while St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, owned an eleventh-century gospel book that many believe to be a holy relic.

Section III. The Patron of Genius

Books and manuscripts can be objects of great elaboration and unusual beauty. More often than not they are collaborative, and as such offer a corrective to the idea of the “solitary genius.” Many, often anonymous, hands—scribes, artists, printers, binders—produce these magnificent objects. The exquisite Hebrew Kennicott Bible from 1476 and a glorious Qur’an from 1550 speak to the genius of copying religious texts. Artistic and literary genius often needs a patron, and this relationship is fully realized in an ivory plaque from the court of Charlemagne around the year 800, the manuscript of Boccaccio’s Il Filocolo from the court of Ludovico Gonzaga, duke of Mantua, and the manuscript of Bahāristān by the Persian poet Jāmī produced at the court of Emperor Akbar in Mughal India.

Section IV. On the Shoulders of Giants

Every invention or creation is indebted to what came before. Benedictine monasticism was the cultural backbone of the Middle Ages, represented here by the oldest extant copy of the Rule of St. Benedict written in England in the early 700s. Also on view is the oldest book written in English, a translation of St. Gregory the Great’s manual on pastoral care from around 890. Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia mathematica of 1687, which laid the foundations of modern physics, had its basis in Euclid’s Elementa, composed around 300 b.c., and shown here in a copy from 888.

Section V. The Genius of Printing

Few inventions have so revolutionized the spread of knowledge, literacy, and communication as Johann Gutenberg’s creation of a system of movable type in Germany around 1450-55. Printing exponentially increased a text’s survival versus its manuscript counterpart.

Important books and ideas could suddenly circulate in hundreds of copies rather than just a handful. William Caxton was the first English printer, and the exhibition includes the first English book advertisement for his Sarum Ordinale, which can be gotten “good cheap.” A portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam and Julia Margaret Cameron’s photograph of Alfred, Lord Tennyson represent authors whose talents were supremely realized through print. Visually stunning works, such as Albrecht Dürer’s Apocalypse and J.R.R. Tolkein’s original design for The Hobbit dust jacket, illustrate the intimate relationship some authors and artists had with the publication and distribution of their own work.

PUBLICATION

The exhibition is accompanied by a 360-page, lavishly illustrated catalogue with an introductory essay on the nature of genius, as well as detailed entries for individual works by Stephen Hebron.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

Gallery Talk

Friday, July 11, 6:30 pm

John McQuillen, Assistant Curator, Printed Books and Bindings, will lead this tour of Marks of Genius: Treasures from the Bodleian Library.

All gallery talks and tours are free with museum admission; no tickets or reservations are necessary. They usually last one hour and meet at the Benefactors Wall across from the coat check area.

Tours

Between the Lines Tours

Saturday, June 14 and September 13, 11 am

Written or drawn, lines are to be read and interpreted. In this interactive gallery talk, a Morgan educator will lead visitors in an hour-long discussion on a selection of works from Marks of Genius: Treasures from the Bodleian Library.

All gallery talks and tours are free with museum admission; no tickets or reservations are necessary. They usually last one hour and meet at the Benefactors Wall across from the coat check area.

For more information on these and other related public programs visit themorgan.org/programs.

ORGANIZATION AND SPONSORSHIP

Marks of Genius: Treasures from the Bodleian is curated by Stephen Hebron and the staff at the Bodleian Library. Its showing at the Morgan is organized by John McQuillen, assistant curator in the Department of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum. The exhibition will inaugurate the new Weston Library at the Bodleian in March 2015.

Lead funding is provided by Karen H. Bechtel, with additional generous support from the Johansson Family Foundation and the Ricciardi Family Exhibition Fund.

The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.

The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford form the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. They include the principal University library—the Bodleian Library—which has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years; major research libraries; and libraries attached to faculties, departments and other institutions of the University. The combined library collections number more than 11 million printed items, in addition to 50,000 e-journals, and vast quantities of materials in other formats. For additional information see www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

General Information

The Morgan Library & Museum

225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405

212.685.0008

www.themorgan.org

Just a short walk from Grand Central and Penn Station

Hours

Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 

Admission

$18 for adults; $12 for students, seniors (65 and over), and children (under 16); free to Members and children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Admission is free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is not required to visit the Morgan Shop, Café, or Dining Room.

NEW YORK, NY (April 16, 2014)—This summer, the New-York Historical Society will present a special exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the iconic children's classic Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, on view from July 4 through October 13, 2014, will honor the plucky Parisian schoolgirl and her creator in the first exhibition devoted to the artist in more than 50 years. Organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, the exhibition will premiere at the New-York Historical Society before returning to The Carle. 

A natural storyteller who drew and wrote with fluency, Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) artfully blended childhood memories with his experiences as an adult to create Madeline, published in 1939. His story about a precocious young girl’s adventures at boarding school was hugely successful and Bemelmans went on to publish five more Madeline stories, as well as develop the idea for Madeline in the White House with Jacqueline Kennedy; the book was written by his grandson John Bemelmans Marciano.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that E. L. Doctorow, author of such critically acclaimed novels as "Ragtime," "World’s Fair," "Billy Bathgate," "The March" and his current novel, "Andrew’s Brain," will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Aug. 30.

"E. L. Doctorow is our very own Charles Dickens, summoning a distinctly American place and time, channeling our myriad voices," said Billington. "Each book is a vivid canvas, filled with color and drama. In each, he chronicles an entirely different world."

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New York—On Thursday, May 1, Swann Galleries will auction a fine selection of Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books that offers scarce examples of incunabula, books on anatomy by Vesalius and others, dentistry books, Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species and more.

Among the earliest items in the sale is Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, a first edition of a 1st-century A.D. account of the life and exploits of Alexander the Great, Venice, 1471 (pre-sale estimate: $15,000 to $20,000). Other examples of incunabula include Iyov, i.e. the book of Job, from a Bible in Hebrew, the third production of the first Hebrew press in Naples, 26 September 1487 ($8,000 to $12,000); and a collage of nine miniatures, mostly scenes from the life of Christ, within a frame of 21 cuttings from illuminated borders, all excised from a vellum liturgical manuscript from later 15th century northern France, the whole mounted on stiff card, probably in the 19th century ($8,000 to $12,000).

A first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, (1953) thrilled bidders, selling for £24,180 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of Modern Literature on Friday 11th April, held at their saleroom in London’s Mayfair.

The first book in the 007 series, Casino Royale (1953) introduced Fleming’s renowned James Bond franchise to the world. Since it was first published on 13th April 1953 the book had been adapted for film three times, and in 2006 it became the 21st film in the Eon Productions film series of the Bond novels, and the film that introduced Daniel Craig as the eighth actor to play the fictional MI6 agent.

Lyon & Turnbull reveal a letter from Bonnie Prince Charlie to his friend, and cousin, the King of France, pleading him to send forces to help him capture the British crown, has come to light. Valued at £8,000-12,000 it will be sold by Lyon & Turnbull on the 7th May 2014 in Edinburgh.

Simon Vickers, Book Specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said, “The allure of Charles Edward Stuart, the 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' of legend, and his romantic but ill-starred campaign in 1745-46 to win back the Stuart throne still holds sway 269 years after the crushing defeat of the the Jacobites at Culloden on 16th April 1746. No more so than in 2014, the year of the Scottish Independence Referendum, which represents, arguably, the first time since 1745 that Scotland has got to chose its own political destiny.”

NEW YORK—A piece of the set from The Ed Sullivan Show, signed by The Beatles minutes before their first live television performance Feb. 9, 1964, may sell for $800,000+ in Heritage’s April 26-27 Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature® Auction in New York. The sale headlines an all-star list of memorabilia from the world’s finest performers and musicians, ranging from Elvis to Jimi Hendrix.

Mere minutes before The Beatles’ history-making debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, a stage hand asked the quartet to sign the back of the fiberglass wall just as the lads were about to be seen by 73 million television viewers. Adorned with individual drawings from each member of the band and accompanied by big, bold signatures, the section may bring more than $800,000.

Norbert Donhofer, New ILAB President

At the Ordinary General Meeting on 13th April 2014 in Paris the presidents of ILAB’s 22 national member associations voted for Norbert Donhofer (Austria) as new ILAB President. He succeeds Tom Congalton (United States) who served as President from 2012 to 2014; and he will be supported by ILAB Vice‐President Gonzalo Fernandéz Pontes (Spain).

Norbert Donhofer is well prepared for the duties he will be facing in the upcoming two years of his presidency. Donhofer joined the ILAB Committee in 2008 where he took over a large number of responsibilities. Under his guidance the ILAB Internship Program has been set up which enables young booksellers to study the trade in different countries and from different perspectives. Meanwhile ILAB interns spent several months in Spain, Hungary, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, where they were taught and hosted by internationally reknown ILAB booksellers. The ILAB Internship Program has become a central part of ILAB’s activities to support young booksellers and to help building up the future of the international trade. Norbert Donhofer also played an important part when the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Associations of Russia and Hungary became ILAB members in the years 2009 and 2010.

An adaptation of the French play by Charles Nodier, The Bride of the Isles, A Tale of the Vampire (1820) sold well above its estimate of £180-220 for £2,928 in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ Bibliophile Sale, held yesterday Thursday 11th April.

The book is itself an adaptation of the extremely popular 1819 short story by Dr Polidori, Lord Byron's travelling doctor. It is said that the character of the protagonist vampire, Lord Ruthven, was based on the wild lifestyle of Lord Byron and the character from the original book was used in adaptations by a number of authors at the time. This English reworking for the stage was undertaken by James Robinson Planché (1796-1880), playwright and herald.  At least four other stage adaptations of the book were written during 1820.

Doyle New York held a successful auction of Rare Books & Autographs on April 9, 2014. The sale offered over 250 lots, including Americana, early manuscripts, first editions, literature, plate books, atlases, travel, maps, science, illustration art and autographs.

FIRST EDITIONS
Also selling for a record price was an 1891 first trade edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, London: Ward, Lock & Co., consigned by a Titled English Lady. Complete with its excessively rare paper dust jacket, the book sold for $40,625—a world auction record for an uninscribed copy.

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