Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow University Library Special Collections’

Given that I am currently at the family seat, and have just finished watching Brave, today’s Victorian Vendredi will out of necessity have a Scottish flavour. Queen Victoria herself, as any self-respecting fan of Dr Who, lycanthropy-themed episodes in particular, will know, greatly enjoyed her holidays at Balmoral Castle, describing it in her diaries as “my dear paradise in the Highlands”. But I don’t plan to speak of royal pursuits today, nor of the interference of time-travellers in said pursuits. (more…)

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While waiting for a much-needed storm to clear the air, and while fearing to look at any up-to-the-minute media, I’ve been reading up on what the sun got up to in medieval times. Its life definitely seemed much more interesting back then. (more…)

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… when it’s being taken up to Heaven. In last week’s Mid-Week Museum post, I exhibited some images of souls being taken to Heaven. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to presume that most of my readers will have seen images of Jesus and Mary being taken up to Heaven, body and soul; many such images appear in medieval art contemporary with the aforementioned images of mortal souls. But I never expected to see the following portrayal of Mary’s Assumption:

Mary's Assumption into Heaven, f.19v, in the Hunterian Psalter (England: c. 1170, Glasgow University Library Sp Coll MS Hunter U.3.2 (229) )

Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, f.19v, in the Hunterian Psalter (England: c. 1170, Glasgow University Library Sp Coll MS Hunter U.3.2 (229) )

I’ve never seen an image of the Assumption which shows Mary’s body wrapped in bandages, thus reinforcing the fact of her death. I concluded that the purpose of the choice of garb was to reinforce the miraculous aspect of her being taken into Heaven body and soul, which in Catholic theology only occurs on this occasion and at the Ascension of Jesus. The virtual exhibition of the Hunterian Psalter backs up my assertion, and goes further.

The question as to whether Mary was assumed bodily and reunited with her soul in heaven, or body and soul together, was a subject of intense theological debate in the Twelfth Century. This image, which unambiguously depicts the bearing aloft of a corpse, may form part of the polemic. It has been linked to a vision experienced by a twelfth-century German Benedictine nun, Elizabeth of Schönau (d. 1164), and also to the writings of Honorius of Autun (d. c.1156).

The exhibition also states that this is the only iconographical representation of the Virgin enshrouded. I am planning to read up on Elizabeth of Schönau and Honorius of Autun, but if you know of any other interesting depictions of the Assumption, I’d love to hear more about it.

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The Victorian Tactile ImaginationYou can compare the tactility, or lack of same, of your imagination, to that of the Victorians at Birkbeck (University of London) on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 July, at the conference currently (and for evermore) known as The Victorian Tactile Imagination.

“You people who can see attach such an absurd importance to your eyes! I set my touch, my dear, against your eyes, as much the most trustworthy, and much the most intelligent sense of the two”. (Wilkie Collins, Poor Miss Finch, 1872)


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Until such time as life calms down – next week – and I can properly write up the rest of my account of all things AAH2013, I have decided to publicise the work of some of my favourite libraries and projects. Today, it’s the turn of the Glasgow Incunabula Project, from Glasgow University Library’s Special Collections department.

University of Glasgow Library Blog

Our beautifully preserved copy of the anonymous Fiore novello estratto dalla Bibbia is one of those satisfying books where we can (unusually!) trace the provenance back to the 15th century. Its decorated opening page incorporates the coat of arms of its first owner, the Aragonese Kingdom of Naples.

The book – a rendition of Bible stories in Italian – was produced by an unknown printer, probably in Venice. Our copy first resided in Naples, where the Aragonese Royal Library was situated. This library of over 1000 volumes was confiscated, along with other cultural treasures, by Charles VIII of France (1470-1498)  in 1495 following his invasion of Naples. The books were initially moved to the residence of his consort, Anne of Brittany, at Amboise in France, and our book still bears the numbering that was given to it at this time on its final leaf (“xxxiij”).

The confiscated library continued its jaunt around France in the…

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Central St Martins Library on the new campus

I began the Bard’s birthday (25 January – I’ve been busy!) wending my way to the wilds beyond St Pancras Station, to the new King’s Cross campus for Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. ARLIS had organised a visit to the Library and Museum. It’s important for librarians to regularly visit other libraries, both in their own particular sectors (in my case art librarianship and academic librarianship) and further afield. The opportunity to see how other librarians manage their spaces and resources and how they develop and maintain their services is an important part of our job. Part of my work in user education involves assessing other libraries as a potential resource for my own students, particularly when it comes to their dissertations. I take pride in being able to give well-informed suggestions in this regard, but these library visits also benefit my professional development. It’s always good to spend time with colleagues, to share experiences and offer or request advice, and just to geek out over all things library, the good and the bad, with like-minded people. (more…)

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From Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ – Henry Vitzelly, in “Christmas with the Poets” recommends the poem as the most appropriate way to end the year (Glasgow University Library Special Collections item Sp Coll Euing BD20-b.24).


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