New and Notable Rare Books

  In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the enthusiasm for Greek and Roman antiquities was nurtured by the publication of celebrated collections of antique art. Inspired in particular by the published catalogues of Sir William Hamilton’s vase collection, Dubois-Maisonneuve produced at least two works that described and illustrated many black- and red-figure vases held primarily in French collections. He included examples from both the royal holdings at Malmaison and the Musée Napoleon, as well as those owned by private collectors, such as Hamilton, the comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier, and lesser known connoisseurs, including one vase owned by Dubois-Maisonneuve himself. The title of both publications acknowledged the archaeological controversy about the origins of...
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 08:29
  Sometimes referred to as the “German Vasari,” Joachim von Sandrart, born in Frankfurt, trained first as a printmaker, notably in Nuremberg, and in Prague with Aegidius Sadeler. He then studied painting from 1625 on, originally in the studio of Gerrit van Honthorst in Utrecht, where he met Rubens. After a long and successful career in the foremost artistic circles in England, Italy, and the Netherlands, he returned to Germany and painted for Emperor Ferdinand III, for which he was ennobled in 1673. In the latter part of his life, Sandrart settled in Nuremberg and turned to publishing projects and teaching. His most important publication, the Academia todesca, better known as the Teutsche Academie, was the first comprehensive treatise on the history of art written in German. The...
Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 13:27
    Published between 1922 and 1926, Hakuyō was the monthly magazine of the Japan Photographic Art Association (Nihon Kōga Geijutsu Kyōkai), the first national Japanese organization with ‘art photography’ (geijutsu shashin) as its focus. It is within the pages of this journal that the artistic evolution from traditional Pictorialism to modernist expressionism in Japanese photography is documented with both images and with essays about the medium by the artists themselves. Because of this, Hakuyō is considered one of Japan’s most historically important photography publications.               Cover of Hakuyō’s first issue in 1922.           Although relatively few copies of Hakuyō survive, Marquand...
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 10:32
        Another newly acquired Japanese ehon (picture book) in the Marquand Library collection is Katsushika Hokusai’s beautiful Ehon kyōka yama mata yama [Picture Book of Comic Poems: Mountains Upon Mountains], dated 1804. Filled with humorously ironic kyōka poetry and charming views of the capital city, this three-volume set focuses on the leisure activities of everyday urban life—cherry blossom viewing, tea drinking, and visiting temples and shrines.               Unlike many copies of this book, Marquand’s Ehon kyōka yama mata yama retains its purple coloration throughout. This color, which is a vegetable dye, is quite elusive and has turned brown in other extant examples of the book.      ...
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 13:14
        Celebrating the famous prostitution district of the town of Itako, this picture/ poetry book [ehon] by Katsushika Hokusai and the poet, Fuji no Karamaro, was banned by the Japanese government in 1803, shortly after publication. The charge was violation of the sumptuary laws forbidding “luxurious printing,” a euphemism used to stop the publication of erotica. Punishment was swift. The printing blocks for the book were destroyed and both the author, Karamono, and publisher, the famous Tsutaya Jūzaburō, were arrested. However, Hokusai, for some unknown reason, remained unscathed.                     The illustrations in this two-volume set are of the beautiful prostitutes of Itako. It is an intimate...
Friday, November 30, 2012 - 10:37
  This year, Marquand Library acquired a copy of one of the first complete color facsimiles of the Grimani Breviary, a magnificent example of Flemish Renaissance manuscript illumination.  Monumental in size, it consists of 1,670 pages, of which around 120 are full-page miniatures of both sacred and secular subjects, including a calendar, psalms, hymns, texts from the holy scriptures, and prayers for the canonical hours of the day. Purchased around 1520 by the Venetian Cardinal Domenico Grimani (1461–1523) for the enormous sum of 500 ducats, the prayer book was considered so precious that the cardinal specified in his will that this “noble and beautiful object” was to be shown only to “people of extraordinary standing and only in exceptional circumstances” (quod Breviarium,...
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 09:46
  In 1734, Michel-Etienne Turgot (1690-1751), the influential provost of the merchants of Paris (a position roughly equivalent to that of the present-day Mayor), commissioned a new printed map to record and promote the city of Paris. Turgot, perhaps inspired by a set of tapestries depicting a panoramic view of sixteenth-century Paris that had once decorated the Hôtel de Ville, decided against the modern planimetric projection favored by most cartographers by the early eighteenth century, such as the Plan de Paris… by Jean de Lagrive, in favor of the more archaic, but undeniably engaging, axonometric projection, which gave a type of bird’s-eye view of the cityscape, seen in Turgot’s Plan.         Pont Neuf area of Paris from Turgot’s Plan de Paris:...
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 14:02
        Adventure was promised to those who traveled Japan’s three hundred-mile-long Tōkaidō Road from the 17th through early 20th century. For more than three centuries illustrated books and woodblock prints created and fostered a perception that the Tōkaidō was more than a thoroughfare running alongside the country’s eastern sea coast. Much like the legendary Route 66 in America it was a destination in and of itself. So powerful was the art and literature related to the Tōkaidō that even as the road itself fell into disuse (superseded by the railroad and a modern highway system), it remained a part of Japan’s collective consciousness. Today, the legend of the Tōkaidō Road has become part of popular culture worldwide through the woodblock prints of influential...
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 13:49
  (Click here for larger size of the image shown above.)     Pietro da Cortona’s Tabulae anatomicae, one of the most artistic anatomical atlases ever produced, was not published until more than 70 years after the artist’s death. Early in his career, Pietro made studies of the work of anatomists, including Nicolas Larché, whose dissections in Rome were also studied by Poussin. The plates in this book may derive from a series of anatomical drawings Pietro made for the Roman surgeon Giovanni Maria Castellani, who became head of the Ospedale Santo Spirito in 1620. Although the drawings have been dated to around 1618, from the erased date that can be discerned in two plates with the “LC” mark of the engraver Luca Ciamberlano (fl. 1599-1641), they were not published until...
Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 12:31
  It is said that if one natural disaster strikes, a second will occur...   So begins the preface to this harrowing chronicle of disasters that took place in Japan during the first two years of the Ansei period (1854-1860). The era was beset with natural calamities: 4 major and many minor earthquakes, 2 tsunami, a typhoon, and flu and cholera epidemics that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The main focus here, however, is on the 1856 typhoon and resulting flood that took 10,000 lives, wiping out much of northern Edo (Tokyo) and Izu peninsula. The author, popular fiction writer-turned-journalist Kanagaki Robun, blends eyewitness accounts, religious and mythological explanations of events, and powerful images to report the tragic events of the day. Unfortunately,...
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 09:58