KJB and Austen Manuscript Lead The Morgan Library's New Exhibit

New York, NY, October 17, 2011—Beginning tomorrow, The Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit over thirty extraordinary works from its extensive collections of printed books, illuminated manuscripts, Americana, music, and literary and historical manuscripts. The items will be shown in the recently-restored McKim building and will remain on view through February 12, 2012.



A ROYAL COPY OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Of particular note is a first edition of the King James Bible—now in its 400th anniversary year. From the time of its publication in 1611 until the nineteenth century, the King James Bible was the dominant translation of scripture for the English-speaking world. Along with the works of Shakespeare, it remains one of the few seventeenth-century texts in wide circulation today. This copy (one of two first editions of the King James Bible owned by the Morgan) displays the royal arms on its bindings and has manuscript notes by Laurence Chaderton (1536?-1640), one of the forty-seven Anglican and Puritan divines entrusted by King James to produce the revised translation. At one point it belonged to Jane Fisher (c. 1626-1689), whose legendary role in Charles II's escape from England during the Civil War turned her into a cultural hero for the royalists. The Bible's ornate title page was engraved by Antwerp artist Cornelius Boel. It depicts symbols of the Trinity, images of the apostles, the four evangelists, Moses and Aaron, and—in reference to Christ's self-sacrifice—a pelican piercing its breast to feed its young.



THE ONLY COMPLETE MANUSCRIPT OF AN AUSTEN NOVEL

The exhibition features a number of literary treasures, including Jane Austen's Lady Susan, the only surviving complete manuscript of an Austen novel. Written when the author was just nineteen, the manuscript remained untitled at her death and was not published until more than fifty years later in 1871. Austen also appears in Virginia Woolf's notebook from 1931 that includes a heavily revised draft of "A Letter to a Young Poet," first published in the Yale Review in 1932. Among the unpublished passages is Woolf's assertion that the two most perfect novels in the English language are Austen's Emma and Anthony Trollope's The Small House at Allington. 

Also on view will be the manuscripts of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's beloved Le Petit Prince, John Steinbeck's final novel, The Winter of Our Discontent (donated to the Morgan by Steinbeck after he studied original medieval manuscripts at the Library in 1957 for his translation of Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur), and J. L. Carr's A Month in the Country.

"JINGLE BELLS" AND OTHER MUSICAL ITEMS

Two classic American melodies, "New Yankee Doodle" (1798) and "The One Horse Open Sleigh" (1857)—later, "Jingle Bells"—will be on view. "Jingle Bells" was written by Pierpont Morgan's uncle, James Pierpont, and is his only song to have achieved lasting fame. 

Some of the greatest composers of the nineteenth century are also represented in this exhibition. Franz Liszt, whose bicentennial is celebrated this year, intended for more than a decade to compose music inspired by Hans Holbein's Todtentanz woodcut series and Andrea Orcagna's fresco Trionfo della Morte—both reflections on death. He eventually composed Totentanz in 1849, the manuscript of which will be displayed, bearing the hand of his copyist August Conradi with later revisions by Liszt. Other music manuscripts include Strauss's popular "Morgen" (1897), Mendelssohn's Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (1833/1834), and Henri Duparc's L'Invitation au voyage (1870).



THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS 

Among the Morgan's more sobering pieces of Americana is Rebecka Eames's petition from Salem prison to the governer of Massachusetts, Sir William Phips. Written on December 5, 1692 after four months of imprisonment for witchcraft, Eames repudiates her previous confession, claiming she had been "hurried out of my senses by ye afflicted person Abigall Hobs and Mary Lacye who both of them cryed out against me. . .spitting in my face saying they knew me to be an old witch." Eames was subsequently pardoned.

GALILEO'S BIAS REVEALED 

When the Catholic Church granted Galileo permission to publish his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, it did so with the proviso that he draw no conclusions in favor of one system or the other. Galileo's obvious endorsement of Copernicus's sun-centered cosmology did not go unnoticed by the Church, however, and the aged astronomer was pressured to recant his beliefs and remain under house arrest for the remainder of his life. It took more than 350 years before the Vatican officially acknowledged its wrongful condemnation. On display will be Stefano della Bella's engraved frontispiece, which depicts Copernicus conversing with Aristotle and Ptolemy.



A THIRTEENTH-CENTURY WEDDING PRESENT

The Morgan's rich holdings of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts will be represented in this display by several important Italian, French, and Austrian works. Among them is a thirteenth-century wedding gift: a richly illustrated Psalter and Book of Hours made for Ghuiluys de Boisleux on the occasion of her marriage to Jean de Neuville-Vitasse.

The book eventually descended to Catherine de Courtenay, Empress of Constantinople. On view will also be the Farnese Hours (1546), considered one of the most important Italian Renaissance manuscripts. The pages on view depict the Office of the Dead, with the Great Equalizer presiding over an array of clothes while his feet rest on a papal tiara and a crown, reminding us that social rank dies when we do. The following page depicts the raising of Lazarus by Christ, an image frequently used to illustrate the Office and one that offers hope that Christ will grant rest and pardon to the deceased.

The Morgan exhibition program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.



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. 



General Information

The Morgan Library & Museum

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

212.685.0008

www.themorgan.org


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

$15 for adults; $10 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.

PRESS CONTACTS
The Morgan Library & Museum
Patrick Milliman
212.590.0310
pmilliman@themorgan.org
Alanna Schindewolf
212.590.0311
aschindewolf@themorgan.org

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