A Rare Example: Diana Scultori (Mantovana) 16th-Century Female Engraver

[The following post was written by Amelia Saward, student intern, Print Collection]

In sixteenth century Italy most women were confined to the social sphere. A female’s contribution to their family was generally through marriage and producing successions to the family line. For upper class women it also included paying house calls to other respectable women in order to maintain societal connections. Diana Scultori, on the other hand, was concerned with establishing her printmaking career, assisting her family’s income and maintaining prominent connections within the Mantuan court and in Rome and Volterra once marrying. An entrepreneur, she made efforts to secure her family’s income by using her works to gain commissions for her husband Francesco Capriani’s architectural career.[1] She belongs to a select group of female artists of the Italian Renaissance, even fewer of whom were printmakers or who had reasonable success in their own lifetime. She was the first woman to have signed her own name on her prints.[2]

Two Women on a Road (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Marion and David Adams 2011.

Two Women on a Road (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Marion and David Adams 2011.

Born to a Mantuan printmaker, Diana learnt her skill from her father, along with her brother Adamo. This was one of the only ways women were able to gain such an artistic education and the majority of female artists during the period had been taught by their fathers. In Diana’s case, however, he had not taught her drawing and so she relied on the drawings of others for her engravings. In her early career in Mantua she primarily based her works upon drawings by Giulio Romano and later on works from connections gained through her husband, whom she married in 1575, and the papal workshops. Even when the first drawing academy begun in Rome she was not allowed to attend.[3]

Although often referred to as Diana Scultori, she never used the name, as her brother did. Instead she referred to herself as Diana Mantovana and later included Volterra, in reference to her husband and his city of origin.

The Birth of John the Baptist (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

The Birth of John the Baptist (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Diana was an anomaly in Giorgio Vasari’s Lives, mentioned in his second edition published in 1568. She met and impressed Vasari at only nineteen, when he came across her whilst at the Gonzaga court seeking material for the edition. He wrote ‘To Giovanbattista Mantovano, an engraver of prints and excellent sculptor, whom we have spoken of, in the Vita of Giulio Romano and that of Marcantonio Bolognese, two sons were born, who engrave prints on copper divinely; and what is more wondrous, a daughter named Diana who also engraves very well, which is a wondrous thing; and I who saw her, a very kind and gracious young girl, and her works which are very beautiful, was astounded’.[4] Vasari noted two sons. Diana, however, only had one brother Adamo. The other is likely to have been Giorgio Ghisi who was possibly a student.[5] Though he was incorrect in this detail, it is clear Vasari was much taken by the young Diana, evidently impressed enough to include her as one of the few women featured in the text.

As an entrepreneur, Diana requested and was granted a papal privilege in 1575, after she moved to Rome with Francesco. This gave her intellectual property rights and made it a crime for someone to reproduce, copy or sell her works without permission. Thus, she was able to control their distribution and establish a prestige to attract courtly buyers, which also assisted her husband to get architectural commissions.[6]

The Holy Spirit in Glory with Angels (1578); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959

The Holy Spirit in Glory with Angels (1578); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

The Resurrection (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton, 1959.

The Resurrection (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton, 1959.

Her engravings depict a mixture of religious and secular subject matter, and examples of both are held in the university’s collection. Latona Giving Birth to Apollo and Diana on the Island of Delos, is an example of her secular works. The engraving is based on a preparatory drawing by Giulio Romano (Louvre, Paris) for a painting on the same subject (Hampton Court, London).[7] The scene from classical mythology, taken form Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a text of great inspiration for sixteenth-century artists, shows Latona, a protector of the nymphs and Jupiter’s lover, after she has given birth to twins Apollo and Diana. She has escaped to the island of Delos in fear of Juno’s jealousy. Scultori’s signature can be seen on the bottom left hand corner, which she included to emphasize the legal status of her work, along with a further inscription on the bottom right.

Latona Giving Birth to Apollo and Diana On the Island of Delos (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Latona Giving Birth to Apollo and Diana On the Island of Delos (1547-1612); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.


[1] Evelyn Lincoln, ‘Making a Good Impression: Diana Mantuana’s Printmaking Career’, Renaissance Quarterly, 50, no. 4 (1997), 1102.

[2] Lincoln, 1102.

[3] Lincoln, 1106, 1111.

[4] Quoted in Lincoln, 1105.

[5] Italian Women Artists: from Renaissance to Baroque, 16 March–15 July, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. (Italy: Skira Editore S.p.A, 2007), p. 126.

[6] Lincoln, 1118.

[7] Italian Women Artists, 132.

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Strange Scenes Identified in the Baillieu Library Print Collection

‘Unidentified. Series of twenty seven engravings from a book/ copper engravings – Dutch – ? 1650-1700 good impressions.’ This is what Dr Orde Poynton wrote in his registration book in 1960 for his print collection about a group of illustrations that subsequently remained a mystery. The key to unlocking the identity of the images lies in their peculiar subject matter. One of the most startling of the illustrations shows a scene of men attaching tapers to foxes’ tails and setting them on fire in order to burn a wheat field. What has this to do with other pictures in the series such as a man with his tongue stuck to the handle of a water pump?

Embelmata XV: How, Christian, are you now thus divided? (Hoe zijt ghy Christ, nu dus gesplitst?) (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Embelmata XV: How, Christian, are you now thus divided? (Hoe zijt ghy Christ, nu dus gesplitst?) (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J.
Orde Poynton 1959.

Embelmata L: De keur-wijz' leert van't gheen hem zeert (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Embelmata L: De keur-wijz’ leert van’t gheen hem zeert (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the
University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Once the scenes were recognised as emblems, identification of their source revealed they were some of the 51 illustrations from Johannes de Brune’s Emblemata of Zinne-werck first published in 1624.[1] Emblems exist throughout art history, but as a genre they appeared in the 16th-century and seem to have fallen out of usage during the 19th-century. The earliest or most influential emblem book is Andrea Alciato’s Emblemata (1531). A copy of this popular book was donated to the university library in 1903 as part of the George McArthur Bequest. Unfortunately, the library does not hold a copy of de Brune’s work on emblems.

An emblem comprises three components, including a title or motto which sits above the image and a verse or epigram which sits below. Typically their design conveyed inculcating wisdom to their audience. They have been described as word-eye pictures as the two elements are required to interpret their riddle-like qualities. Yet their meaning can often remain elusive, and in the case of the Baillieu’s engravings, without the words, they have the unintentional effect of not making any sense. Indeed, de Brune wrote in the dedication to his book that without the explanatory text, the images would be as helpless as oysters without shells.[2] Emblems are similar to fable stories and their subjects can range from scenes of everyday life through to the fantastic; a guiding hand can reach out of the sky to direct the action, or an enchanted animal can be a protagonist.

Emblemata XI: De mensch vint baet, in anders quaed (1624)

Emblemata XI: De mensch vint baet, in anders quaed (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne, Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

In an example from Alciato’s Emblemata, a translation from the Latin motto is: ‘Intelligence matters, not beauty’ and the prose below the image describes:

A fox, entering the store-room of a theatrical producer, found an actor’s mask, skilfully shaped, so finely fashioned that the spirit alone was missing, in all else it seemed alive. Taking it up, the fox addressed it – What a head is this, but it has no brain![3]

The illustrations in de Brune’s Emblemata are after drawings by Adriaen van de Venne, a leading emblem artist. As a text prepared during the Dutch Protestant Reformation, many of the images convey religious analogies through scenes of contemporary life. In one of the emblems the text explains God and the Devil’s battle for the soul, which is represented by two hands in the clouds finger-wrestling a pretzel.

Emblemata XIX: Des mensches leven is een strijd, Die noyt als met den mensch' en sijt (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Emblemata XIX: Des mensches leven is een strijd, Die noyt als met den mensch’ en sijt (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J.
Orde Poynton 1959.

While other images have caught the attention of scholars for their social history such as the depiction of the medical practice of leeching in one image, and Dutch manufacture of early telescopes in another.  The illustration with the foxes refers to the biblical story of Samson torching the fields of the Philistines.[4] Although all of the translations are yet to be found, and the relative wisdom, or lack thereof, to setting foxes’ tails on fire and licking handles cannot be fully defined, it has been important to provide these images with some much needed context.

Emblemata XLVII: Jealousy finds pleasure in another's misfortune (De Nijd vind baet in anders quaed) (1624); Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Emblemata XLVII: Jealousy finds pleasure in another’s misfortune (De Nijd vind baet in anders quaed) (1624);  Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959.

Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))

[1]  For a more detailed description of the book see Marleen van der Weij, “‘A Good Man, Burgher and Christian’: the intended reader in Johan de Brune’s Emblemata,’ in Alison Adams, Marleen van der Weij, Emblems of the Low Countries: Book Historical Perspective (Glasgow: Glasgow Emblem Studies, 2003), pp. 111-128.

[2] Els Stronks, Negotiating Differences: Word, Image and Religion in the Dutch Republic (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 77.

[3] Emblemata: Lyons, 1550  Andrea Alciato; translated and annotated by Betty I. Knott; with an introduction by John Manning (Aldershot, Hants., England: Scolar Press, 1996),  p. 203.

[4] P.J. Meertens, introduction to Emblemata of zinne-werck (Soest, Germany: Davaco, 1970), p. 4.

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A Small World of Bookplates

Bookplate of Melitta Heroux created by Burno Héroux (1868 1944); Gift of Neville Barnett, 1936

Bookplate of Melitta Heroux created by Burno Héroux (1868 – 1944); Gift of Neville Barnett, 1936

In 1996 the Baillieu Library showcased its small but captivating holdings of bookplates with the exhibition The Age of Ex Libris.[1] The exhibition focused on the period from the 1890s to the 1930s when a number of societies devoted to bookplates were established and the Library displayed works from the holdings of Harold Wright who collected Lionel Lindsay bookplates and those donated by Neville Barnett in 1936.

[Percy] Neville Barnett is recognised as one of the earliest authorities on bookplates in Australia. The information about his 1936 gift was not recorded in the database, but it has been possible to identify many of those works from the finely printed publications Barnett produced, in particular his Wood-cut bookplates (1934). This privately printed book reveals the international breadth of his collection, and reflected in his gift which includes examples from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy and America amongst others. Mounting political tensions are seen in some of these 20th-century bookplates as the world moved toward its second international war. Neville Barnett had in his collection bookplates designed for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini; one of the Mussolini bookplates is held by the Baillieu Library.

Vácslav Rudl bookplate designed by Frantisek Bílek (1872 1941); Gift of Neville Barnett, 1936

Vácslav Rudl bookplate designed by Frantisek Bílek (1872 – 1941); Gift of Neville Barnett, 1936

The Australian Bookplate Society was formed in 1923 and Barnett was a founding member along with other collectors such as Camden Morrisby. Thebookplate designed by Lionel Lindsay for Morrisby which depicts the incident where Samuel Johnson wallops a London bookseller with a dictionary, ‘became highly sought after and gave its owner access to bookish individuals around the world’.[2] Appreciation for bookplates freed many international boundaries; Vácslav Rudl was a Czechoslovakian collector and also a member of the Australian Bookplate Society.

The inscription on his bookplate translates: ‘He was involved in many things;/ If all these should be written down,/ The world would not hold all the books’.[3] The often personalised visual meanings in bookplates can also emphasise their specialist audience. While the symbols and inscriptions in bookplates and their wider purpose as labels for book ownership demonstrate that a world of knowledge may be communicated through these miniature printed forms.


Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))

[1] [Geoffrey Down and Judith Purser], The age of ex libris: bookplates from the Library’s collection: an exhibition, 6 February – 30 April 1996, Leigh Scott Room, Baillieu Library (Melbourne: Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, 1996).

[2] Mark J. Fenson, ‘A Bibliography Works by and about P. Neville Barnett,’ in Mark J. Fenson (ed.) P. Neville Barnett: Australian genius with books: a volume of essays issued on the 50th anniversary of his death (Riverview, NSW: Book Collectors’ Society of Australia, 2003), p. 59.

[3] Down and Purser, [p. 28].

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Illustrating Daily Life in Seventeenth-Century Oxford

A few months ago, Special Collections acquired the 1675 first edition of David Loggan’s Oxonina illustrata at the 2014 Melbourne Antiquarian Book Fair.[1] The book consists of some of the most detailed engravings depicting the city of Oxford and the university, including a plan of the city, all the Oxford colleges, halls and public buildings, and a plate showing examples of academic dress.[2]


Engraving of St John's College, Oxford

St John’s College


Though Loggan’s architectural engravings are of course the centre piece of his work, it was the small vignettes illustrating activities outside the university walls that generated much conversation amongst staff. Below is a sampling of these miniature images of daily life in seventeenth-century Oxford, from people selling goods and men driving animals, to horse-drawn carriages and a child’s run in with a dog.[3]


'The Prospect of Oxford from the South near Abbington Road'

Farmers in a field from ‘The Prospect of Oxford from the South near Abbington Road’

Engraving of two gentlemen on horseback outside University College, Oxford

Two men (one with a peg leg) on horseback outside University College

Engraving of carriage and beggars outside the Bodleian Library

Carriage and two men begging outside the Bodleian Library

Engraving of a youth being chased by a dog outside Jesus College

Youth being chased by a dog outside Jesus College

Engraving of a team of pack horses outside the Church of St Mary the Virgin

Team of pack horses outside the Church of St Mary the Virgin

Engraving of tenant house next to Trinity College

Out building and workers near Trinity College chapel

Engraving of a man leading horse cart outside Merton College

Man leading horse cart outside Merton College (note one cask has sprung a leak!)

Engraving of woman with children and two dogs outside Queen's College

Woman with children and two dogs outside Queen’s College

Engraving of a woman selling produce outside Magdalen College

Woman selling produce outside Magdalen College

Engraving of cattle outside St Alban Hall

Cattle outside St Alban Hall


Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] David Loggan, Oxonia illustrata … Oxoniae: E. Theatro Sheldoniano, [1675]; Melbourne copy with the bookplate of Australian military historian and academic Alec Hill (1916–2008).

[2] Oxonia illustrata was evidently intended as a companion to Anthony Wood’s Historia, et antiquitates Universitatis Oxoniensis (1674). Special Collections holds a later English language edition published in Oxford by the Clarendon Press in 1786. An appendix to this work was published in 1790.

[3] Special Collections also holds two pre-1801 editions of Loggan’s Cantabrigia illustrata, a companion volume of views of Cambridge first published c. 1690, at which time Loggan was appointed engraver to the University of Cambridge. These volumes are held as part of the Pierre Gorman Cambridge Collection.

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Memorialised in Manuscript: A Unique First World War Honour Roll

Memorial lists recording the names of people who have died in service to their country or local community are a tragic, but important, part of library and institutional collections worldwide. For the First World War alone, Special Collections holds seventeen separate registers published between 1919 and 1926. There is, however, one further register in the collection that was neither printed nor published, but artfully crafted by a member of university staff.

Opening page.

Opening page.




This manuscript Honour Roll was created by Vincent J. Hearnes, chief mechanic in the Department of Metallurgy workshop during the early 1930s.[1] According to an index card enclosed in the book, one of Hearnes’ hobbies was the production of books and decorative texts using coloured inks he prepared. This Honour Roll is one surviving example of his work.

The book consists of 34 hand-decorated leaves recording in a calligraphic script the names of 102 graduates killed on active service between 1914 and 1918.[2] Hearnes was clearly influenced by medieval manuscript decoration and Celtic art, but added an Australian touch by using eccentrically stylised kangaroos and emus to form his knotwork patterns as exemplified in the previous images.

Rather than design decorated initials for each individual name, Hearnes instead used either one large initial for all the names on a given page, such as in the first and third examples below, or incorporated multiple initials into a single design element, e.g. the combination of ‘E’, ‘F’ and ‘G’ in the middle image.

Surnames Corbett and Creswell.

Surnames Corbett and Creswell.


Surnames Elliott to Garnett.

Surnames Elliott to Garnett.


Surnames Mathison to Miller.

Surnames Mathison to Miller.


Introduction by Professor Earnest Scott, 25.3.1932.

Professor Scott’s Introduction, 25.3.1932.

The work was also a collaborative production. The book was tastefully bound in blue (the university colour) pebble-grained morocco with ornamental gilt turn-ins and marbled endpapers by the prominent Melbourne binder Harry Green. There are brief contributions by Professors L. J. Wrigley (Department of Education) and J. Neill Greenwood (Department of Metallurgy), and an Introduction was provided by noted historian Professor (Sir) Ernest Scott.[3]

When and why did Hearnes compile the manuscript? Thanks to the colophon, we know he completed the Honour Roll in March 1932. The year is significant for two reasons. First, the twentieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I was just two years away. Second, Melbourne’s war memorial, the Shrine of Remembrance, was under construction and scheduled to open in time with the anniversary in 1934.

To create a record of the Victorians who served overseas between 1914 and 1918, the committee tasked with founding and constructing the Shrine opted to have the names inscribed in a series of Books of Remembrance.[4] To ensure the longevity of the books, they sought the advice of the Victorian Arts and Crafts Society, which specified: ‘The books will be made of the best Roman Vellum, and hand bound in Levant Morocco … The binding would be done by Mr Harry Green, one of the best craftsmen in Australia in the production of Edition de Luxe. The lettering would be done by [Jason] S. Forman and assistants’.[5]

Although Hearnes’ Honour Roll was also bound by Green, he was not among Forman’s assistants, though it seems evident that their work inspired Hearnes to create a similar Book of Remembrance focused on graduates of the university.[6]

The Honour Roll was not the only calligraphic work Hearnes wished to present to the library. In a letter to the Registrar dated 5 April 1933, he wrote: ‘As I mentioned some months ago, I intended having another manuscript book finished for presentation … this year, but owing to illness … I have been unable to do any considerable amount of drawing’.[7] The letter closed with an offer of a third manuscript, one comprised of prayers written alternately in Irish and Latin. Neither book mentioned, however, is held by Special Collections.

Eight months after writing to the Registrar, Hearnes was dismissed from the university due to conflict with other staff, which, it is safe to presume, also ended any inclination on his part to donate further books.[8] This makes the Honour Roll the sole example of his calligraphic work held by the library, and a fitting object to write about, as we enter the final months of the centennial year marking the start of the First World War and prepare to commemorate the centenary of the costly Gallipoli Campaign in 2015.

Colophon dated 28.3.1932.

Colophon dated 28.3.1932.

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] Essington Lewis, Development and Activities of the Metallurgy School … Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1935, p. 7.

[2] For the official university Roll of Honour, see The Melbourne University Magazine: War Memorial Number … Compiled by Graduates and Undergraduates of the UniversityMelbourne: [Printed by Ford & Son for Melbourne University Magazine], 1920.

[3] Scott was knighted in 1939. The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies maintains a chair in his honour, and the university awards an annual prize in Scott’s name, which was established by his widow, Lady Emily Scott (1882–1957).

[4] The books, which number forty in total, are housed in individual bronze caskets displayed in the Ambulatory.

[5] J.B. Forman to Philip Hudson, 10 October 1929; quoted in Bruce Scates, A Place to Remember: A History of the Shrine of Remembrance. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 129. Fine vellum proved cost prohibitive, so parchment, cheaper but no less durable, was used.

[6] My thanks to Leigh Gilburt at the Shrine of Remembrance for confirming Hearnes was not among the calligraphers.

[7] V. J. Hearnes to the University Registrar, 5 April 1933; the letter is enclosed with the Honour Roll.

[8] File ‘H. V. [sic] Hearnes Termination of Employment’; University of Melbourne Archives, Office of the Registrar Collection, UM 312, 1933/ 206.

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An Apothecary’s Annotations: Eighteenth-Century Medical Notes in a Seventeenth-Century Text

Since 2009, the rare books collection of the Brownless Medical Library has been housed by Special Collections in the Baillieu Library. This collection, which numbers 1,850 volumes, is strongest in eighteenth and nineteenth-century material. Some earlier texts are also held, such as sixteenth-century editions of the Galeni librorum quarta classis and La farmacopea o’antidotario dell’eccellentissimo Collegio de’ signori medici di Bergomo (both published in Venice, 1597) and a copy of the 1698 edition of John Browne’s Myographia nova, or, a graphical description of all the muscles in the humane body.[1]

Plate 87. Engraving of a human skeleton in an allegorical pose, likely influenced by Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (1543).

Plate 87. Engraving of a human skeleton in an allegorical pose, influenced by Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (1543).

Another seventeenth-century anatomical text in the collection is William Cowper’s The anatomy of humane bodies, printed in Oxford for Samuel Smith and Benjamin Walford, printers to the Royal Society, and published the same year as Browne’s 1698 Myographia nova.[2] Cowper’s book is known for its folio-sized anatomical plates by Gérard de Lairesse previously published in Govard Bidloo’s Anatomia humani corporis (Amsterdam, 1685), which caused a vitriolic exchange between the two anatomists after Bidloo accused Cowper of plagiarism.[3]

What makes the Melbourne copy of Cowper’s Anatomy particularly interesting are the copious notes written between 1724 and 1740 by an English apothecary, who compiled a combination pharmacopeia and prescription book on the blank versos of sixty-two plates.

The notes refer to treatments for thirty-four diseases or groups of diseases, such as rheumatism, asthma, dysentery, pulmonary tuberculosis, and cancer. In her 2008 study of the book, Dorothea Rowse (Honorary Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies and former Sciences Librarian) described the notes as consisting of ‘a comprehensive list of available remedies, evidence of remedies that had been used for named patients, a guide to the physicians recommended for particular medical conditions … and a record of patients who had been treated for serious medical illnesses’.[4]

Notes on breast cancer (verso of plate 19).

Notes on breast cancer treatment (verso of plate 19).

The inclusion of named physicians and patients, some of whom were children, add a very real, very human element. Rowse counted fifteen physicians whose names appear in the notes, along with the names of ninety-three identifiable patients who lived in the vicinity of the village of Hambledon in the county of Hampshire.[5] Her research suggests the author of the notes was Edward Hale, an apothecary and barber surgeon, resident in Hambledon from 1720, whose son (also Edward) continued the practice.[6]

To make these notes available widely available to researchers, each page has been photographed and the images uploaded to Flickr:[7]


Unfortunately, due to the book being rebound, some of the notes run into the inner margin. Anyone consulting the notes is welcome to contact Special Collections at  special-collections at unimelb.edu.au for assistance.

Dorothea Rowse’s full account is available on-line as a PDF at the following URL:


 Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] The Melbourne copy of Browne’s Myographia nova is from the Chatsworth House library of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire (1640–1707). The text was first published in 1681.

[2] Cowper’s The amatomy of humane bodies (London, 1698) purchased with funds from the estate of F. M. Meyer.

[3] Cowper mentioned neither Bidloo nor de Lairesse in his text. According to Cowper’s ODNB entry, Bidloo ‘published a complaint in 1700 addressed to the Royal Society accusing Cowper of plagiarism … which included copies of letters to Cowper, most of which had gone unanswered, correspondence with his publishers, and a list of errors. The Royal Society, with some discomfort, declined to adjudicate on the matter’.

[4] Dorothea Rowse, ‘The Hampshire Apothecary’s Book: An 18th Century Medical Manuscript in the Baillieu Library’. University of Melbourne Collections issue 3 (Dec. 2008), p. 13.

[5] Ibid, p. 15.

[6] Ibid, pp. 16-17.

[7] To view the original or larger-sized images, single click on the ‘Download this photo’ icon towards the lower right, then select ‘View all sizes’ (‘Large 2048’ file size option is recommended).

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Days of the White King

Before novels such as Game of Thrones, extraordinary tales of kings and conquests could be illustrated from the pages of history. When Maximilian I ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Europe was made up of small principalities and kings strode about like pieces on a chess board playing out territorial wars. The cannons they trained on each other breathed dragon fire; aristocratic hostages were used for political bargaining, betrothals and betrayals were all part of their strategies for war and diplomatic games.

Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519) of the house of Hapsburg was the King of the Germans and ruled the Holy Roman Empire, jointly with his father from around 1483 and alone from 1508 until his death. Maximilian’s days were marked by artillery fire: ‘at two years of age the infant Maximilian was shut up in Vienna besieged by his uncle. The first memories of the child thus cradled in the lap of war with cannon shots for lullabies, were of the hardships and perils of a soldier.’[1] He was a knight (of the Order of the Golden Fleece) and also an exceptional patron of the arts, an innovator who left an astounding body of printed works which tell us about his times.

One of these works is his saga Der Weisskunig (The White King), which is the allegorical name given to Maximilian the hero, and is an autobiographical epic. The work contains 251 illustrations by Hans Burkgmair and other notable German artists including Leonhard Beck. It is arranged in three parts: the history of Maximilian’s parents, Frederick III and Eleanor of Portugal; Maximilian’s birth and education; and the chronicle of his military campaigns. Other kings in the narrative are identified by colours or symbols. Owing to Maximilian’s death, The White King project which commenced in 1515 was not printed until 1775. Examples from the series may be found in the Baillieu Library Print Collection.

Print showing the Encampment of the White King before a battle

Encampment of the White King before a battle (1514-16); Hans Burgkmair, woodcut

The alliance of three kings against the King of Fish is a depiction of the League of Cambrai which was formed during the Italian wars. Here termed as the King with Three Crowns, is Pope Julius II, the Blue King (Louis XII), the Black King (Ferdinand II of Aragon) and the White King (Maximilian I) against the King of Fish who represents the republic of Venice.[2] The League of Cambrai, like many of the alliances made in Maximilian’s time, was based on interests that could dissolve or turn hostile at any moment. So that in The White King allies in one image may be at war in another.

Woodcut of Kings against the King of Fish

The Alliance of Three Kings against the King of Fish (1514-16); Leonard Beck, woodcut

Maximilian’s son and heir, Philip the Handsome would become the King of Castile through his marriage to Joanna of Castile. Philip’s unexpected death meant that it would be his son Charles V who would succeed Maximilian as the Holy Roman Emperor, and also rule the Spanish Empire. Philip and Joanna had six children and Maximilian arranged for an auspicious double marriage between two of them: Mary of Hapsburg to Louis II of Hungary and Ferdinand I to Anne of Bohemia and Hungary. This is encapsulated by the book written for him by Johannes Cuspinianus, Congress and meeting of Emperor Maximilian and the three kings of Hungary, Bohemia, Hungary and Poland in Vienna (1515) held in the Rare Book Collection.[3]

Woodcut of King Philip received at Castile and sworn to loyalty

King Philip received at Castile and sworn to loyalty (c. 1515); Leonard Beck, woodcut

Despite the scenes of military might in The White King, it was through marriage that Maximilian and his descendants created the most powerful alliances and conquests. His printed legacy ensures that the incredible stories about his deeds and his legend are remembered, and explain why Maximilian has also become known as the paper king.[4]

For more about Maximilian I and the University of Melbourne see ‘Mad Max and the Renaissance’ in Cultural Treasures Festival Papers 2012, University of Melbourne Library, 2014.

Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))

[1] Paul Van Dyke, Renascence portraits, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905, p. 264.

[2]  Larry Silver, ‘Caesar Ludens: Emperor Maximilian I and the waning Middle Ages’ in Cultural Visions: Essays in the History of Culture, edited by Penny Schine Gold and Benjamin C. Sax, Amsterdam, 2000, p. 194.

[3] Congressus ac conventus Caesaris Max. et trium regum Hungariae Bohemiae, et Poloniae in Vienna Pannoniae mense Julio anno 1515 facti brevis description, Wien: J. Singrienius, 1515.

[4] See Larry Silver ‘The “Papier-Kaiser” Burgkmair, Augsburg and the image of the Emperor’ in Emperor Maximilian I and the age of Dürer, edited by Eva Michel and Maria Luise Sternath, Albertina, c. 2012.

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The Gutenberg Bible on Exhibit in Melbourne

Next week sees the launch of the third annual Melbourne Rare Book Week (17 to 27 July). Bibliophiles from across Australasia and beyond will descend upon the city and enjoy an array of talks, demonstrations and exhibitions, ending with the Melbourne Rare Book Fair (25 to 27 July). Visitors to this year’s Rare Book Week will also be able to attend a range of events in the university’s biennial Cultural Treasures Festival (26 and 27 July).

The university will once again host the fair in Wilson Hall, but also add something very special to the 2014 Rare Book Week programme: A 10-day exhibition of the Gutenberg Bible.


Gutenberg Bible advert banner


The Bible, on loan courtesy of The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library, will be displayed from 18 to 27 July in the Dulcie Hollyock Room located on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library.

Like all Rare Book Week events, the exhibition is free and open to the public. Viewing hours are 11.00am to 5.00pm daily. Bookings not required.

A series of floor talks connected with the exhibition are also taking place. Details and how to book can be found on the Gutenberg Bible exhibition and Cultural Treasures Festival webpages.

A selection of incunabula and later religious texts from Baillieu Special Collections is also on display on the ground floor of the library in support of the Gutenberg Bible exhibit.

Whether you are local to Melbourne or just visiting, a chance to see a copy of the first substantial book printed in the Western world is not to be missed!

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An 18th-century French drawing in the Baillieu Library

The most recent issue of University of Melbourne Collections magazine includes a detailed contribution by Marguerite Brown (recent graduate, Master of Art Curatorship) on a red chalk drawing of Prometheus being attacked by an eagle from the Baillieu Library’s Print Collection.[1]

Image: Prometheus being attacked by an eagle

Previously attributed to the Italian engraver Francesco Bartolozzi (1727–1815), Marguerite’s research has overturned this assessment in favour of the French sculptor René-Michel Slodtz (1705–1764). Her full analysis can be read on Marguerite’s blog Visual Pursuits:



[1] Marguerite Brown, ‘An 18th-century French drawing in the Baillieu Library’. University of Melbourne Collections, issue 14 (June 2014): 46–50.

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Bright & Hitchcock: Geelong Archives and the Apricot and Blue 19TH Century Dress

[Reposted from the UMA Business Archives blog]


Bright and Hitchcock dress

Bright & Hitchcocks, Geelong (1853-1968)
Day dress 1865-1870
Gift of Miss Bell, 1973
D243.a-c-1973, National Gallery of Victoria

I found out about the existence of the University Archives because of a dress. That may sound strange, but the full-skirted apricot and blue patterned silk dress, dating from about 1865 to 1870, has a small label stitched to the inside of its waistband. It reads “From Bright & Hitchcocks, Geelong”. The dress is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and I came across it when I was curating an exhibition titled “Australian Made: One Hundred Years of Fashion”. It opened at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia in May 2010. This dress was one of the earliest items on display and it is remarkable, not only for its almost pristine condition, but also because it appears to be the oldest surviving garment bearing an Australian label. It was not usual for makers or retailers to stitch labels into garments until the twentieth century. The majority of nineteenth century garments therefore are unlabeled.

Knowing its origins means a context can be provided for the Bright and Hitchcocks dress. Research into the company’s archives, which are held at the University of Melbourne, threw light on the networks of trade and consumption in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century. As I read through the original hefty volumes of letters from Bright and Hitchcocks’ London agent to the managers in Geelong, I began to get a sense of how items for the Australian market were selected, what sold well, and what the company didn’t find worthwhile stocking. This clearly wasn’t a passive commercial relationship where, as is too often assumed, the current fashions in British goods were simply shipped out to the colonies in support of a society that was transposed holus-bolus from one side of the world to the other.

Established in 1850, Bright and Hitchcocks was a drapery and general merchants business. It stocked a broad range of imported goods, including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as dress fabrics and trims, blankets, carpets and household linen. It is commonly thought that ‘readymade’ fashionable dress (which could be bought over the counter) was not available at this time, however the company letters tell us otherwise. A letter from the London agent dated 24 August 1865 states, ‘By this mail I send assortment (25 dresses) new goods made for us … the prettiest goods I have seen…” Is it possible that the dress in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria was one of these twenty-five? Its styling dates it to the same era and if it is not from this particular group of imports, it certainly appears that the dress came into the country as a readymade item. Donated to the gallery in 1973, its provenance links it to the Bell family whosettled beyond Geelong on the Bellarine peninsula in the 1840s.

After more than a century of retailing to the residents of Geelong and further afield, Bright and Hitchcocks closed it doors in 1968. However its building still stands today on Moorabool street in the centre of the city as a reminder of this pioneering commercial venture.

For more information about the “Australian Made: One Hundred Years of Fashion” see



Australian Made: One Hundred Years of Fashion from the 1850s to the 1950s by Laura Jocic is available at the University of Melbourne Library.

Contributor: Laura Jocic, PhD candidate, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.

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