A gift of ten drawings by Allan Mitelman

Allan Mitelman (Polish/Australian bn. 1946) is a printmaker, draughtsman and painter who is also a major contributor to the history of abstraction in Australia. Ten works on paper by the artist have recently been gifted to the Baillieu Library Print Collection through the Cultural Gifts Program. This collection of ten drawings spans fourteen years of the artist’s career and is a window onto his life’s practice, one which has been concerned with reinventing the surface of paper.

The relationship between the artist, the paper and the layers of applied medium are vital in the production of these work of art and all of the gifted works are untitled, thereby inviting the viewer to respond to them free from constrains and conventions. Viewers may also be surprised by the small scale of these drawings which are no more than 20 centimetres in size.

1991.2036.000.000

Allan Mitelman, “S.T.”  1971, lithograph, image: 37.7 x 55.5cm, Baillieu Library Collection, the University of Melbourne. © Allan Mitelman

The way in which media lies on the paper is likewise key to the meaning and interpretation of the Baillieu Library Print Collection. Previously there had only been one example by Allan Mitelman in the collection: a lithograph titled “S.T.” . Therefore this gift contextualises this single abstract print and adds depth to the range of techniques in the collection. Untitled (2000), for example, incorporates a monotype print (a unique impression) the surface of which has been reworked with drawing. This is the first example of a monotype method in the collection.

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Allan Mitelman, Untitled (2000), monotype and ink, sheet: 14.6 x 9.6cm, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Matisse Mitelman. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2015. © Allan Mitelman

Other drawings such as Untitled (2012) combine watercolour and pencil and they are executed in such a manner that the viewer never tires of looking at them.

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Allan Mitelman, Untitled , 2012, pencil and watercolour, image: 15.5 x 9.1cm, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Matisse Mitelman. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2015. © Allan Mitelman

These works on paper offer wide appeal to students of subjects such as printmaking, art history, curatorship, history and education. They exemplify contemporary working practices, ensure that the collection is alive and  relevant, and they carve a new path into its future growth.

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Allan Mitelman, Untitled, 1990, pencil and watercolour, sheet: 16.5 x 13.7cm, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Matisse Mitelman. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2015. © Allan Mitelman

Reference

Allan Mitelman: works on paper 1967-2004 by Elizabeth Cross; with a contribution by Terence Maloon, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2004.


Shakespeare in Steel: exploring links between Edward Dowden’s ‘Shakespeare Scenes & Characters’ and the ‘Gallerie Shakespeare’ portfolio of engravings. Part III.

 

On the 15th July 2016, the University of Melbourne’s highly anticipated After Shakespeare exhibition was officially opened, in the Noel Shaw Gallery of the Baillieu Library. Marking the 400th anniversary of the year of the Bard’s death, the exhibition plays host to a number of artefacts and ephemera that highlight Shakespeare’s lasting legacy throughout the centuries, with particular focus on his reception in Australia.

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Amongst the intriguing stories contained in the cases is a puzzling connection between an 1876 English book of Shakespearian commentaries and engravings, and a separately issued portfolio of 22 engravings with a French title. Helen Kesarios, a student volunteer in the Cultural Collections Projects Program, has been investigating possible connections between the two works, drawing on original correspondence located at the British Library.

Part I told the story of the Shakespearian scholar, Edward Dowden, and the publication of his exquisitely illustrated text, Shakespeare Scenes & Characters (London : Macmillan and Co, 1876). Part II explored the background to the German engravings which feature in Dowden’s text.

The third instalment in this three-part story continues here, investigating links with a separately issued French portfolio of the engravings

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Part III – The French portfolio of German engravings

Also in Case 6, and accompanying Dowden’s text is a selection of loose prints from Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger’s “Gallerie Shakespeare”, a red folio of twenty-two steel engravings identical to those contained in Dowden’s text, but bearing no publisher’s imprint. It is unknown how they came to be in Grainger’s collection, but their existence therein is unsurprising, given the strong affinity Grainger had with literature from a young age, particularly Nordic literature. As John Bird notes in his biography:

‘From the time Percy was four or five years old a certain period each day was set aside for reading out loud. The writings of Hans Christian Andersen were the first pieces of literature which he thus encountered. Later came the Icelandic Sagas of Njal and ‘Grettir the Strong’ and he was determined that one day he would learn a Scandinavian language so that he could read the Sagas in their original form. From the Sagas he turned to early English history with a strong emphasis on that period when the Nordic influence was greatest due to the Viking invasions. By the age of ten he had devoured a huge array of literature which included such material as Freeman’s History of the Norman Conquest and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles’.[i]

Percy PortraitIn correspondence with Macmillan and Co., Dowden repeatedly makes reference to a “Shakespeare-Galerie” or “Shakespeare Gallery”, which provided the prints for use in his book. As exciting as it may be to assume that Grainger’s “Gallerie Shakespeare” is one and the same, such a conclusion is found to be highly unlikely. Upon returning to the Preface, we learn that in fact, the “Shakespeare-Galerie” Dowden refers to is Friedrich Pecht’s “Shakespeare-Galerie: Charakter und Scenen aus Shakespaere’s Dramen”, a publication containing the Dowden prints with accompanying text in German by Pecht, what Dowden refers to as ‘a pleasant and cultured little causerie on each of the plays illustrated by the designers’.[ii] In selecting the text for his own book, Dowden decided ultimately that the essays by Pecht, ‘though bright and genial, seemed more suitable to the German than to the English reader, and it was thought that their place could with some advantage be supplied by a select body of extracts from the best writers, English, American, French and German, who have contributed to the criticism of Shakespeare’.[iii]

Thus, there still remains no definitive answer for how Grainger’s loose prints in the “Gallerie Shakespeare” portfolio came into being, how they fell into his hands, and their exact publication relationship with Dowden’s Shakespeare Scenes & Characters. Throughout my research, I have heard numerous theories on the matter, for example, that the prints actually belonged to Ella Grainger (Percy Grainger’s wife), as they were found in her belongings. Alternatively, it has been suggested hat they may have been a gift to Percy from his father. While we may never know for certain their origin, both they and Dowden’s Shakespeare Scenes and Characters remain two wonderful pieces of Shakespeariana that are definitely worth viewing in person.

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Helen Kesarios, Research Assistant – After Shakespeare exhibition

[i] John Bird, Percy Grainger, Elek Books Ltd, London, 1976, p. 11.

[ii] Dowden, Shakespeare Scenes and Characters, p. viii.

[iii] ibid.


Mirror mirror on the wall, whose was the most influential encyclopaedia of them all: the story of Diderot’s radical Encylopédie of sciences, arts and technical crafts

Library catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b4333563

The heroic task of bringing together and documenting the vast canon of human knowledge in written form, has been accomplished by a select number of individuals and publishing houses over time.  One of the most extraordinary of these achievements was the publication between 1751 and 1772 of 27 large folio-sized volumes of the Encyclopédie, ou: dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts  et des métiers, a complete edition of which is housed in the Baillieu Library’s Rare Books Collection.[i]

DiderotFinanced by subscription and issued in serial form (including 10 volumes of illustrated plates), this enormous compilation of more than 70,000 articles was at once a technical manual, a highly political and philosophical work, and an entrancing written and visual commentary on 18th century French society.  Such was its popularity and influence that by 1789, 25,000 copies were in circulation in several editions across Europe.

The Encyclopédie was edited by the philosopher and writer Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and, for the first eight years of its conception, in collaboration with the mathematician Jean d’Alembert (1717-1783).  The two had been commissioned to translate the two-volume Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences (1728) into French but were greatly dissatisfied with the scope of the English compendium, and urged their publishers to embark upon a much improved and comprehensive French production.[ii]

Library catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b4333563More than a mere factual encyclopaedia, the work was in itself an instrument of the Enlightenment, promoting in its text and pictures the power of reason and the individual over that of divine order and centralised control.  Diderot was motivated to share human knowledge and ideas freely with an emerging reading public, as a means for inspiring technological improvements, and to promote economic and political progress.[iii]

At first the French officials tolerated the sometimes radical views espoused in the text but as new volumes were released the Encyclopédie became increasingly controversial:  the publication licence was withdrawn in 1757, and the work was added to the Catholic Church’s list of banned books.  During this period the editors moved production over the border to Switzerland, focusing their outward attention on the engraved plates, whilst burying the more revolutionary opinions deep in the text or by using irony as a means for masking the censor’s eye.

Library catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b4333563Mirror making

The Encyclopédie included a strong emphasis on the manual arts and technology, the processes and tools of many of which had been hitherto kept secret to protect individual cartels.  One such example was the craft of mirror making, the techniques of which are illustrated in Volume 8 of the plates in a series of charmingly rendered engravings.[iv]

Mirror making has a fascinating history and in late 17th century France mirrors had become a luxury import, with the vogue for reflecting hallways and rooms attaining craze proportions amongst the aristocracy.[v]  Mirror manufacture was the sole monopoly of the Venetian state, with the exact process remaining highly classified information, the release of which was punishable by death and the imprisonment of family.  By report mirror making was:

‘a law unto itself. It had its own rules and customs, and a separate language too, handed down not only from father to son but from master to apprentice…Theirs was a closed community, with every man, woman and child knowing his place within the walls’.[vi]

The French Finance Minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), introduced extensive internal reforms to promote French manufacturing in many closed industries, and lured a few renegade Venetian mirror makers to Paris to divulge their secrets.   In response the Venetian authorities despatched emissaries who it is thought succeeded in poisoning some of the dissenters, though not before the French workers had obtained sufficient information to replicate the manufacturing process.

The_Lady_and_the_Unicorn_Sight_det4Using the newfound knowledge the French mirror making industry made further technical advances, and by the time of the publication of the Encyclopédie mirrors were ‘sparkling’ in a multiplicity of roles in fashionable society.  Mirrors were embroidered into clothes, worn as jewellery, incorporated in hair accessories and makeup, decorated furniture, and were used in mantelpieces and other architectural devices to lighten rooms.  The vogue for reflection demanded larger, full length mirrors, in which the viewer, dressed in the style of Madame de Pompadour (herself a subscriber to Diderot’s multi-volume work) could view her bouffant wig and dress in their entirety.

Mirrors, and their reflected realities, also appear in the world of books and literature, in the Brothers’ Grimm tale Snow White, Shakespeare’s Richard III, Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot, and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and feature in many paintings and artworks, such as the medieval The Lady & the Unicorn tapestries and Van Eyck’s the Arnofoldi Marriage[vii]Thanks to Diderot and the contributors to the Encyclopédie we also have a wonderfully evocative insight into the mirror making mind-set and manufacture of pre-Revolutionary France.

Arnolfi marriage

My thanks are extended to University of Melbourne lecturer Emeritus Professor Peter McPhee and history student, April Hamill, for their inspiration for this post.

Susan Thomas, Rare Books Curator

Endnotes

[i] Diderot, Denis. (ed) Encyclopédie, ou : dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts  et des métiers. 3rd ed.  Livourne: de l’Imprimerie des Éditeurs, 1770-1776.

[ii] Pannabecker, John. ‘Diderot, the Mechanical Arts, and the  Encyclopédie: In Search of the Heritage of Technology Education’, Journal of technology education,  Vol. 6, no. 1, 1994, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/jte-v6n1/pannabecker.jte-v6n1.html

[iii] Pannabecker, John, Ibid.

[iv] Diderot, Denis (ed).  Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication… 3rd ed.  Livourne: De l’imprimerie des éditeurs, 1771-1778.

[v] Prendergast, Mark. Mirror, mirror: a history of the human love affair with reflection.  New York: Basic Books, c2003, pp.148-149.

[vi] Prendergast, Mark, Ibid, p. 153

[vii] Mullen. John. ‘Ten of the best mirrors in literature’, The Guardian, 30 October 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/oct/30/john-mullan-mirrors-literature-review

Bibliography and further reading

Bates, Brian with John Cleese.  The human face. London : BBC Worldwide, 2001.

Diderot, Denis and Jean d’Alembert (eds). Encyclopédie, ou : dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts  et des métiers. 3rd ed.  Livourne : de l’Imprimerie des Éditeurs, 1770-1776.

Diderot, Denis (ed).  Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication… 3rd ed.  Livourne : De l’Imprimerie des Éditeurs, 1771-1778.

Donato, Clorinda and Robert M. Maniquis (eds).  The Encyclopédie and the Age of Revolution. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1992.

‘Encyclopédie’, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A9die.  Accessed 5 August 2016.

Miller, Jonathan. On reflection. London : National Gallery Publications, 1998.

Mullen. John. ‘Ten of the best mirrors in literature’, The Guardian, 30 October 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/oct/30/john-mullan-mirrors-literature-review. Accessed 5 August 2016.

Pannabecker, John. ‘Diderot, the Mechanical Arts, and the  Encyclopédie : In Search of the Heritage of Technology Education’, Journal of technology education,  Vol. 6, no. 1, 1994, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/jte-v6n1/pannabecker.jte-v6n1.html.  Accessed 5 August 2016.

Prendergast, Mark. Mirror, mirror: a history of the human love affair with reflection.  New York : Basic Books, c2003.

Select essays from the Encyclopedy : being the most curious,  entertaining, and instructive parts of that very extensive work, written by Mallet, Diderot, d’Alembert, and others.  London : Samuel Leacroft, 1772.


Shakespeare in Steel: exploring links between Edward Dowden’s ‘Shakespeare Scenes & Characters’ and the ‘Gallerie Shakespeare’ portfolio of engravings. Part II.

 

2016029-Thomas-SpecColl-40436On the 15th July 2016, the University of Melbourne’s highly anticipated After Shakespeare exhibition was officially opened, in the Noel Shaw Gallery of the Baillieu Library. Marking the 400th anniversary of the year of the Bard’s death, the exhibition plays host to a number of artefacts and ephemera that highlight Shakespeare’s lasting legacy throughout the centuries, with particular focus on his reception in Australia.

Amongst the intriguing stories contained in the cases is a puzzling connection between an 1876 English book of Shakespearian commentaries and engravings, and a separately issued portfolio of 22 engravings with a French title. Helen Kesarios, a student volunteer in the Cultural Collections Projects Program, has been investigating possible connections between the two works, drawing on original correspondence located at the British Library.

Part I told the story of the Shakespearian scholar, Edward Dowden, and the publication of his exquisitely illustrated text, Shakespeare Scenes & Characters (London : Macmillan and Co, 1876).

The second instalment in this three-part story continues here

Part II – The German engravings: Shakespeare Scenes & Characters selected and arranged by Edward Dowden

Despite Dowden’s intentions that the criticism and images be appreciated as a whole, the interest of readers often focuses on the latter. As Kathryn R. Ludwigson notes:

‘The book is unusually interesting not so much for Dowden’s presentations of Shakespearean criticism, which are, after all, available more fully elsewhere, as for the collection of German engravings, which are governed by concepts of art that contrast with those of the English of the era’.[i]

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Given that steel engraving was already a well-established art form in Great Britain, it is important to consider some of the factors which might have influenced Dowden to choose German artists and engravers over English ones for his book. Perhaps the most striking piece of evidence is contained in the opening to the Preface, where Dowden pays homage to ‘Germany, which has so largely contributed to the scholarly study of Shakespeare, [and which] has also made some remarkable contributions to the pictorial illustration of his plays’.[ii] Dowden was no stranger to German criticism of Shakespeare having, after all, included German criticism in the text, (the works of Friedrich Pecht in particular). He also notes his studying endeavours in a letter to Aubrey de Vere on March 6th, 1875:

‘These miscellaneous little activities of mine are: (1) An article for the Fortnightly Review, to be by-and-by written on “Wordsworth’s Prose Works.” (2) The Quarterly Review on “German Shakespeare Literature”…’[iii]

Dowden engraving

It is also worth noting that the relationship between Germany and Shakespeare is an historic one, and its significance is embodied in the sentiments of German romantic writers such as Goethe (of whom Dowden was particularly fond), who saw in Shakespeare a revolutionary mascot of the times:

‘These authors rebelled against the bureaucracy and despotism of the German states, particularly Prussia; and against the passivity and optimistic contentment of the earlier generation…these “intellectuals”, members of the professional class, applied themselves to an intellectual revolution, a war of liberation of the senses, feeling, imagination. Shakespeare became their most challenging and inspiring slogan…on reading Shakespeare [Goethe] feels his “Existenz erweitert”; Shakespeare, he says, illustrates always the struggle between our presumed freedom of will and the necessary process of the world. For all these writers Shakespeare offered a world of vast activity and experience, in which they felt themselves transported beyond the barriers and restrictions of contemporary German life’.[iv]

Letter 21071875

In terms of the prints’ aesthetic value, Dowden writes in a letter to Macmillan and Co. on July 21st, 1875, that ‘the illustrations are in part interesting to me as a German art-comment on, or interpretation of Shakespeare, and each has made me feel something new about the play to which it belongs’. They were generally well received by the public, with critics noting the skill employed by the German artists and engravers in executing each design:

‘As a whole the series of pictorial illustrations of Shakespearean scenes is strikingly good. Some of the designs are too Teutonic in character, perhaps, but commonly the artist has been successful in the interpretation of character and incident… “The Merry Wives of Windsor”…is one of the best in the series, the artist having caught the individuality of the actors and the spirit of the incident with decided success…Taken as a whole, as we have said, it is an excellent Shakespearean gallery, and shows that German artists are not inferior to German scholars in Shakespearean lore’.[v]

If the reader wishes to know more about each featured artist, Dowden provides a brief ‘curriculum vitae’ in the Preface.

Helen Kesarios

Research Assistant, After Shakespeare exhibition

Cultural Collections Project Program, University of Melbourne

 

HELEN KESARIOS WILL CONCLUDE THE STORY OF THE ENGRAVINGS CONTAINED WITHIN THE DOWDEN VOLUME IN HER FINAL INSTALMENT NEXT WEEK.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR PART III – The French portfolio of German engravings

 

Shakespeare Scenes & Characters cover

[i] Kathryn R. Ludwigson, Edward Dowden, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 28.

[ii] Dowden, Shakespeare Scenes and Characters, p. v.

[iii] Dowden, Letters of Edward Dowden and his Correspondents, p. 72.

[iv] R. Pascal, Shakespeare in Germany: 1740-1815, Cambridge University Press, London, 1937, p. 12.

[v] Brooklyn Museum, ‘Recent Art Publications’, The Art Journal 1875-1887), vol. 3, 1877, p. 31.

 


Percy’s tobacco-box contraption: an ingenious experiment for recording musical notation using repurposed materials

GM_Tobacco Box_Front_Open_w contents

This contraption, ostensibly a small wooden tobacco box, is actually an experiment in musical notation hand-made by Percy Grainger.  Mounted through the lid of the box is a small cotton reel, around which is wound a long strip of paper ruled with 5 musical stave lines to make a continuous blank ‘score’.  This strip of musical score is fed through a slit in the side of the box, then under a cotton “now-line” string nailed to the side of the box.

GM_Tobacco Box_Front_ClosedPresumably, the paper strip is to be pulled past the string at a steady speed, while the composer jots down musical pitches on the score paper in real-time, marking each as the paper passes the string.  In much the same way as a pianola roll records the action of piano keys as temporal events on a strip of paper, here the composer is able to do away with traditional temporal nomenclature, such as bar-lines and time signatures, instead arranging the pitch markings in a kind of graph.  For a musician with a keen ear like Grainger, this would be a much more effective system of notating the highly irregular rhythms of birdsong or the whimsical nuances of folk singers’ performances.

Grainger frequently tested the limitations of conventional notation when trying to capture such irregular rhythms, as is evident in his almost comical use of constantly changing time signatures in some of his scores, such as the 5th movement of the Lincolnshire Posy (where at times he abandons time signature designations entirely).  This contraption illustrates beautifully his frustration with established musical conventions, but also his determination and ingenuity in taking readily available materials and creatively transforming them into forward-thinking (if not entirely practical) solutions to such problems.

Tobacco-box notation experiment. Probably London, c.1900-1901′ (taken from cataloguing notes prepared by Ella Grainger)

Jon Drews (Exhibitions Officer) – Grainger Museum

 

 


Another Tale of Peter Rabbit: celebrating the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter with some lesser known stories of a remarkable artist and writer

83px-Beatrix_Potter_as_a_child

On 28th July 2016 we celebrate 150 years since the birth of the gifted children’s illustrator and writer, Helen Beatrix Potter in 1866. She was known to the world as Beatrix, and ‘B’ to her family, to distinguish her from her mother, with whom she shared the same first name.  From a young age Beatrix exhibited the exceptional observational skills and artistic talents that were to later find expression in the series of delightful hand-sized children’s books which are treasured by adults and children alike.

A young woman of many and diverse talents

Beatrix was an extraordinary individual, attaining stature in a wide range of endeavours, including as sheep breeder, naturalist and conservationist. From her mid-teens to age 30 she kept hidden diaries written in code, and her journal of 3 March 1883 records her resolve to: ‘do something’ with her life beyond the confined expectations of the English upper classes.[i]  With a rare talent for recall, Beatrix challenged herself as a teenager to remember long extracts from the Bible, and to recite entire Shakespearian plays, memorising six of the latter in her 28th year.[ii] She was also an acute observer of the natural world, with a special interest in fungi and lichen, and her paper ‘On the germination of the spores of the agaricineae’ was read by proxy to the Linnean Society of London in 1897.[iii]

PeterRabbit22Beatrix’s artistic talents were evident from a young age, and her ability to portray animals was refined during many holidays spent in the countryside. She and her younger brother often brought back animals to London that they had made pets of, some of which did not survive their transplantation to the city: ‘those who died or were found already dead were usually sketched and occasionally skinned, boiled down, and reconstructed in skeletal form’.[iv]

The reverse was also true, and a selection from the menagerie of small animals which shared their upstairs nursery, travelled with the young Potters in specially crafted baskets.  As well as rabbits, these included mice, snails, rats, birds, lizards named Judy and Toby, a dormouse Xarifa (who was reputedly stroked by the artist John Millais, a family friend), bats, terrapins, frogs and a snake.[v]

1901_First_Edition_of_Peter_Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Whilst Beatrix’s favourite of her own books was The Tailor of Gloucester, she is best remembered for creating the mischievously endearing character, Peter Rabbit, though there were several twists and turns before publication of his ‘tale’ was realised.  After at least six rejections, including one from the eventual publishers, Frederick Warne & Co, Beatrix progressed arrangements to have the book privately printed.  Peter_Rabbit_first_edition_1902a (1)This edition was first issued on 16th December 1901 in a run of 250 copies distributed mostly to family and friends.  A second printing followed shortly after in February 1902, such was the demand, priced at one shilling and two pence.

About this time, Beatrix’s friend Canon Rawnsley re-approached Frederick Warne, suggesting that the story be published in 42 paragraphs of his own verse, accompanied by Beatrix’s illustrations:

‘There were four little bunnies

-no bunnies were sweeter

Mopsy and Cotton-tail,

Flopsy and Peter…’[vi]

Frederick Warne & Co editions and ‘pirated’ American imitations

Fortunately Warne rejected this offer, and at last offered to publish Beatrix’s original manuscript in modified form, including omission of the original picture of Mrs McGregor holding a pie containing Peter’s father because the company did not like her face.  Although a woman in her mid-30s, Beatrix expressed concern at the prospect of her father, a trained barrister, accompanying her to witness the signing of the publishing agreement: ‘if my father happens to insist on going with me to see the agreement, would you please not mind him very much, if he is very fidgety about things…’[vii]

Other adjustments debated included whether Peter should face one way or the other on the cover, the finer points of the rendering of Mr McGregor‘s nose and ears (Beatrix lamented that she had ‘never learnt to draw figures’), and whether the white on the wheelbarrow should be ‘wiped off’.[viii] On 8 May 1902, not long before the Warne edition went to print she reflected

‘I wish that the drawings had been better; I dare say they may look better when reduced; but I am becoming so tired of them, I begin to think that they are positively bad’. [ix]

Perhaps the saddest revelation was that her pet, the original ‘Peter Piper’ rabbit and model, had died on 26th January 1901 (four days after Queen Victoria), at the age of nine, just before the drawings for the Warne edition commenced.  Beatrix wrote ‘now when they are finished I have got another rabbit, and the drawings look wrong’.[x]  Peter was actually her second rabbit, the first being Mr Benjamin Bouncer who enjoyed eating peppermints.

None of these changes affected the success of the Warne print runs: the first 8000 copies were sold before publication, and another 20,000 sold before the end of 1902.  Two years later 86,000 copies were in circulation.  Minor adjustments were made with each new edition, some driven by technical demands such as wear to the printing blocks, necessitating re-cutting of the picture plates.

But cLibrary catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b5194377halleLibrary catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b5194377nges confronted the book post-publication, including the failure of Warne to have claimed copyright protection in the United States for the first American edition.  This oversight spawned a succession of ‘pirated’ imitations, variously retaining, modifying or completely rewriting Beatrix’s words and copying, far less successfully, her illustrations.  These versions included The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Henry Altemus & Co, 1904) and Louise A. Field’s Peter Rabbit and his Pa (Saalfield Publishing, 1908).

What happened to Peter and his sisters?

The fate of Peter beyond the Beatrix Potter books remains unrecorded in her letters or papers, though he seems to have evaded the pie dish, making minor returns in the tales of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the Flopsy BunniesGinger and Pickles, and Mr Tod, and on the last page of Pigling Bland.  Of his sisters, Mopsy does not reappear in later books, but Flopsy married Benjamin Bunny, producing several children, and Cottontail was courted by a black rabbit who left carrots outside her burrow, and raised a family of four or five children on a hill.

Given that The Tale of Peter Rabbit had its genesis whilst Beatrix holidayed in Perthshire in 1893, it is perhaps fitting to end with the first sentences from the Scottish translation, The Tale O Peter Kinnen, first published in 2004:

‘Aince upon a time there wis fower wee Kinnen, an their nems wis – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-bun an Peter. They bid wi their Mither in a san-baunk, aneath the ruit o a muckle fir-tree…’[xi]

I am grateful to my colleague, Susan Millard, Special Collections Librarian, for her assistance with this post.

Susan Thomas, Rare Books Curator

 

Library catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b5846639 Library catalogue entry: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b5846639

Endnotes

[i]  MacDonald, Ruth. Beatrix Potter. Boston : Twayne Publishers, c1986, p. 7

[ii] MacDonald, pp. 8-9

[iii] MacDonald, p. 13

[iv] MacDonald, p. 2

[v]  Taylor, Judy.  Beatrix Potter: artist, storyteller and countrywoman. Harmondsworth: Frederick Warne, 1986, p.47

[vi] Linder, Leslie. A history of the writings of Beatrix Potter, including unpublished work. London : Frederick Warne, c1971, pp. 93-94

[vii] Taylor, Judy.  That naughty rabbit: Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit.  Harmondsworth: Frederick Warne, 1987, p.21.

[viii] Linder, Leslie, p. 106

[ix] Hallinan, Camilla. The ultimate Peter Rabbit: a visual guide to the world of Beatrix Potter. London : Dorling Kindersley, 2002, p. 31

[x] Grinstein, Alexander. The remarkable Beatrix Potter.  Madison, Connecticut: International Universities Press, c1995, p. 52

[xi] McGeachie, Lynne.  Beatrix Potter’s Scotland: her Perthshire inspiration. Edinburgh : Louath Press, 2010, p. 132

Bibliography

Grinstein, Alexander. The remarkable Beatrix Potter.  Madison, Connecticut: International Universities Press, c1995.

Hallinan, Camilla. The ultimate Peter Rabbit: a visual guide to the world of Beatrix Potter. London : Dorling Kindersley, 2002.

The history of The tale of Peter Rabbit. London : Frederick Warne & Co, c1976.

Linder, Leslie. A history of the writings of Beatrix Potter, including unpublished work. London : Frederick Warne, c1971.

MacDonald, Ruth. Beatrix Potter. Boston : Twayne Publishers, c1986.

McGeachie, Lynne.  Beatrix Potter’s Scotland: her Perthshire inspiration. Edinburgh : Louath Press, 2010.

McGeachie, Lynne. The Tale O Peter Kinnen. Edinburgh Luath Press, 2004

Taylor, Judy.  Beatrix Potter: artist, storyteller and countrywoman. Harmondsworth: Frederick Warne, 1986.

Taylor, Judy.  That naughty rabbit: Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit.  Harmondsworth: Frederick Warne, 1987.

 


Discovering the musette: a 17th century treatise on a little known musical instrument

The Rare Music Collection includes a number of early instrumental methods and treatise, volumes which offer instruction on how to play a musical instrument and how to interpret musical notation, and/or information about the instrument’s history and technical development. Notable early treatises in the Collection for Spanish guitar and flute respectively are Gaspar Sanz’s Instruccion de musica sobre la guitarra Española… (Zargosa, 1674) and Jacques Hotteterre, Méthode pour apprendre a jouer en très peu de tems de la flûte traversière … (Lyon, 1765, 1781 issue).

Hotteterre frontispiece (17xx)
Frontispiece engraving in Hotteterre flute method

A third2016035-Hill-Music-40454 early treatise is the Traite de la musette … (Lyon, 1672), the full title of which translates as “Treatise of the musette with a new method for learning to teach yourself to play this instrument easily and quickly”. The musette is no longer well-known, but this beautiful leather-bound volume, with its own marbled slipcase, invites the curious to explore.

Neither the bucolic frontispiece nor the full title page, with its vignette of three putti with bunches of grapes, has the elusive musette at front and centre. The frontispiece was engraved by Nicolas Auroux after drawings by eminent French painter Thomas Blanchet (1614-89) as were, mostly likely, the putti. [1]
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The frontispiece shows a shepherd/musician seated near a ruined aqueduct playing an hautboy (oboe). Seven other wind instruments are somewhat improbably propped up or scattered around him. [2] At some distance we see another shepherd playing another oboe to his herd of goats. In order to locate the musette in the engraving we must look at the left foreground where it sits on a low, flat rock. The musette of the treatise’s title, then, is a type of small bagpipe. You can see its cylindrical drone (to the left), the bag in the middle with separate bellows tucked underneath and a chanter (or chalumeau) attached. A chalumeau simple (with windcap) is propped up above the drone. [3]

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The author of this treatise was Pierre Borjon de Scellery (1633-91), a lawyer, parliamentarian and amateur musician. While he promises to leave his readers able to teach themselves to play, de Scellery instead spends much of his short volume expounding on the instrument’s history and antecedents. At the back of the volume there are, however, some dances and popular tunes to play on the musette, notated with both conventional five-line stave notation and in tablature, where numbers indicate which holes should be covered by the fingers; the instrument has a “closed” fingering system.

Gueidan bagpipe playing image
Public domain image https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaspard_de_Gueidan

Evidence of how the musette de cour was held and played, and by whom, is found in a portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud of nobleman and lawyer, Gaspard de Gueidan (1738; held Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence). The instrument, here richly decorated, was held with the bellows tucked under the forearm and pumped to inflate the bag and sound both the drone and the melody played on the chanter; we know that the instrument’s sound was neither harsh nor overly loud. The musette then was played by noble amateurs as well as the musicians at the royal court; it was also, unquestionably, an instrument compatible with courtly elegance.

Jennifer Hill, Curator, Music

[1] Lucie Galactéros-de Boissier, Thomas Blanchet (1614-1689), Paris: Arthéna, 1991, 476-478.

[2] To identify all the instruments see, for example, http://www.rimab.ch/content/bilddokumente/GE/borjon-de-scellery-pierre-1633-1691-traite-de-la-musette-frontispiz-1672

[3] James B. Copp, “Before Borjon: The French Court Musette to 1672”, Galpin Society Journal, 58 (May 2015), 3-5.


Artists’ books holding us in their palm

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As part of Rare Book Week and the Artists Book Makers series, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison gave a session at the Lenton Parr Library at the South bank campus, showing their beautiful artists books and talking about their collaboration and processes. Special Collections holds a collection of their books, part of the wider Book Arts Collection, which are available to view in the Reading Room in the Baillieu library. They are all catalogued on the Library catalogue. Here are some photos of the event.

http://www.rarebookweek.com/

http://gracialouise.com/

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Shakespeare in Steel: exploring links between Edward Dowden’s ‘Shakespeare Scenes & Characters’ and the ‘Gallerie Shakespeare’ portfolio of engravings. Part I.

On the 15th July 2016, the University of Melbourne’s highly anticipated After Shakespeare exhibition was officially opened, in the Noel Shaw Gallery of the Baillieu Library. Marking the 400th anniversary of the year of the Bard’s death, the exhibition plays host to a number of artefacts and ephemera that highlight Shakespeare’s lasting legacy throughout the centuries, with particular focus on his reception in Australia.

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Amongst the intriguing stories contained in the cases is a puzzling connection between an 1876 English book of Shakespearian commentaries and engravings, and a separately issued portfolio of 22 engravings with a French title. Helen Kesarios, a student volunteer in the Cultural Collections Projects Program, has been investigating possible connections between the two works, drawing on original correspondence located at the British Library.

The first instalment in this three-part story begins at Case 6

Part I – The English book: Shakespeare Scenes & Characters selected and arranged by Edward Dowden

Case 6 of the After Shakespeare exhibition houses several extraordinary artefacts from the 19th century, one of which is Edward Dowden’s Shakespeare Scenes & Characters (London: Macmillan, 1876) from the Baillieu Library’s Rare Books Collection.

Edward Dowden portraitEdward Dowden (1873-1913) was an Irish literary scholar and poet, Professor of Oratory and English Literature, Dublin University, and recognised for his contributions to the study of Shakespeare, Shelley and Browning, among other notable English writers. Despite his nationality, ‘Dowden disclaimed any desire to be thought of as an Irish writer, stating “I confess that I am not ambitious of intensifying my intellectual or spiritual brogue”’. [i]

In addition to his …Scenes & Characters, Dowden’s other principal works on Shakespeare include Shakspere: a Critical Study of his Mind and Art (1875) [Dowden used both spellings, Shakspere and Shakespeare][ii] together with a Shakspere Primer (1877) and an Introduction to Shakespeare (1893).  Dowden’s literary contributions, particularly his Shakespearean studies, were the topic of praise. An example of this can be found in correspondence from the poet and critic Aubrey de Vere (1814-1902) to Dowden, in which he writes with respect to Mind and Art:

‘I did not like to write and thank you for the great pleasure I have had in reading your book on Shakespeare, until I had time to go over nearly all of it a second time; and I shall certainly before long give it a third perusal. I do not exaggerate in saying that it seems to me the best book I have ever read on Shakespeare’ (March 17th, 1875).[iii]

Shakespeare Scenes & Characters is a large and ornate text, comprising Shakespearean criticism ‘from the best English, American, French and German critics’,[iv] carefully selected and arranged by Dowden himself, and complemented by a series of 36 steel engraved prints by distinguished Munich artists and engravers.  Dowden hoped that readers would appreciate the criticism as more than mere ‘padding’ for the illustrations,[v] as outlined in a letter to his publisher Macmillan:

‘I thought the general mass of readers might also find it pleasant and useful to have this choice body of English and foreign criticism – and that it would really add value to the valuable illustrations’ (July 24th, 1875).

Dowden prefaceAnd in the Preface to his book:

‘In selecting the extracts the editor has been guided by the desire, first to illustrate the engraving, with special reference to the principal persons of the play there represented; secondly, to offer some general views of importance suggested by the play; and thirdly, to give examples of the different schools of Shakespearean criticism’.[vi]

2016029-Thomas-SpecColl-40436Each print within the book depicts an engraved scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. W. Schmidt’s and August Friedrich Spiess’s Act 5/Scene 2 depiction of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and Johann Lindner’s and Max Adamo’s Act 5/Scene 1 print of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, are just two of the many scenes provided. Referring to his finished product, Dowden writes, somewhat lamentably, to his brother John Dowden:

My Sh. Picture-book is out. It is a handsome book, with some things I don’t like, but for which I am not responsible, and my part of it – the selection of the text – is, I think, well enough done. King undertakes to advertise my book well in the autumn. I have got about £30 from him, and am to get about as much more in July. About 160 copies of 2nd edition have sold, which I think is as many as could be expected in the time, with no advertising. I hope it will go off faster in autumn, and prove a small annuity to me for a year or two’ (9th June, 1876).[vii]

The Spectator was certainly a lot more enthusiastic about Dowden’s work:

‘This handsome volume has a character of sterling worth which books meant to lie on drawing-room tables do not commonly possess. The illustrations will be new to most readers…There are thirty-six illustrations, engraved on steel. Of these, Herr Adamo, whose name many will recognise as belonging to the Munich school, has contributed a third part, and Herr Pecht a fourth. The other names are Hofmann, Makart, Schwoerer, and Spiess…The “explanatory text” is as important a feature as the illustrations which it subserves. Professor Dowden’s study of Shakespeare and his commentaries and critics has been a very wide one…Not one of the more conspicuous names is absent from his table of contents. Altogether he has made up an excellent volume’.[viii]

2016029-Thomas-SpecColl-40436Helen Kesarios

Research Assistant, After Shakespeare exhibition

Cultural Collections Project Program, University of Melbourne

Helen Kesarios will continue the story of the engravings contained within the Dowden volume in her blog instalment next week.

Watch this space for Part II – The German engravings: Shakespeare Scenes & Characters selected and arranged by Edward Dowden!

[i] E.J. Gwynn & rev. Arthur Sherbo, ‘Edward Dowden (1843-1913)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [website], 2004; online edn, Sept 2013, para. 6, <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32882>, accessed 9 May 2016.

[ii] Gwynn & Sherbo, para. 2.

[iii] Dowden, Letters of Edward Dowden and his Correspondents, p. 73.

[iv] Edward Dowden, letter to Macmillan & Co., 24 July 1875.

[v] Edward Dowden, ‘Preface’, in Edward Dowden ed., Shakespeare Scenes and Characters, Macmillan & Co., London, 1876, p. viii.

[vi] ibid.

[vii] Dowden, Letters of Edward Dowden and his Correspondents, p. 98.

[viii] ‘Shakespeare Scenes and Characters’, The Spectator, Current Literature, 12 August 1876, p. 1018, < http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/12th-august-1876/22/shakespeare-scenes-and-characters-a-series-of-illu>, accessed 9 May 2016.


A 16th century historical feast – leap into Rare Book Week by visiting the Chronicle exhibition (14th-24th July 2016)

Chronicle exhibition

The Baillieu Library is excited to announce for one week only an exclusive exhibition of recent acquisitions from the Kerry Stokes Collection, which have been generously loaned to coincide with this year’s Rare Book Week (14th-24th July 2016).

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At the centrepiece is a rare 11 metre scroll printed on parchment, Cronica Cronicarum, recording the history of the world. Ninety-two woodcuts include early depictions of the cities of Paris, London and Rome as well as portraits of kings and rulers, biblical and historical scenes and genealogical tables.

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The scroll is supported by a number of illuminated manuscripts on vellum from the same period with interesting provenances. Attributed to Kerver, Bourdichon, Colaud and the Master of Philippe de Gueldre, these manuscripts provide vibrant examples of exquisite decoration and rare inspirational works of devotion. The Triumph of David is a highly finished miniature of David bearing the head of Goliath attributed to Vincent Raymond, mounted in a dramatic carved Italian Renaissance frame.

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The exhibition can be viewed in the Dulcie Hollyock Room, Ground Floor, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne 10am-5pm each day.   Don’t miss out!   The full Melbourne Rare Book Week program is available here.

Public lectures

The event is supported by a series of public lectures featuring scholars who will share their expertise and fascinating stories about these rare and beautiful source materials.  Read more and reserve your place at http://events.unimelb.edu.au/rare-book-week.

After Shakespeare exhibition

And whilst you are in the Baillieu Library, take time to visit the recently opened After Shakespeare exhibition, which brings together for the first time one of only five known Australian copies of the Second Folio of Shakespeare’s works (1632), a unique promptbook for a performance of Antony and Cleopatra at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal in 1856, and numerous production artefacts and ephemera.  Find out more at http://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/6717-after-shakespeare.


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