Displays of friendship

Recent viewing of early German prints in the Prints and Drawings Department of the British Museum has enabled the identification of a print in the Marion and David Adams Collection which was gifted to the Library in 2011. The artist who can now be identified as Nuremberg designer Erhard Schön (1491 c. – 1542) is well-known for his satirical anticlerical allegories used by the Protestant reformers, and these were so controversial, that they were left unsigned.[1]

 

Erhard Schön, The Lament of True Friendship, (1530-35), woodcut, Gift of Marion and David Adams, 2011, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.
Erhard Schön, The Lament of True Friendship, (1530-35), woodcut, Gift of Marion and David Adams, 2011, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.

The Lament of True Friendship in the Baillieu Library Print Collection is an image from a Protestant Reformation poster allegorising the animosity between Catholics and Protestants. The interpretation of the unusual imagery of a woman speeding away in a boat drawn by chained swans while a hunter – with an imposingly large gun – looks on, had previously left everyone guessing. The woman in the boat is actually a personification of Friendship, exiting a setting where once Christians had been harmonious. The broadside is missing the poem beneath the image by the prolific writer Hans Sachs (1494 – 1576) who became an adherent to the teachings of Martin Luther.

Utagawa Kunisada I, Right panel from triptych "The second month," (1829-42), colour woodblock, Gift of Marion and David Adams, 2015, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne
Utagawa Kunisada I, Right panel from triptych “The second month,” (1829-42), colour woodblock, Gift of Marion and David Adams, 2015, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.

In 2015 further works were generously donated to the Marion and David Adams Collection. The couple were both great friends to the University. The late Professor Marion Adams, a specialist in the field of German literature, was dean of arts from 1988 to 1993. Her husband, David Adams, graduated from the university as an engineer and later pursued his interest in ancient civilisations through an arts degree.

 

This recent donation includes several Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, such as a section from the triptych, Events through the Year of Young Murasaki, a story from the famous The Tale of Genji. The artist, Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), published 76 bound booklets of his own reinvention of the 11th century tale which he titled A Rustic Genji (1829-42) which repopularised the story for an 18th century audience.

David Adams also assisted the Library to purchase a landscape drawing by the French artist Ignace Duvivier (1758-1832). The Marion and David Adams Collection offers many rich views into relationships across time and the globe, and presents further opportunities for research.

Ignace Duvivier, Castel Nuovo, pencil, watercolour, Purchased with the assistance of David Adams, 2015, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.
Ignace Duvivier, Castel Nuovo, pencil, watercolour, Purchased with the assistance of David Adams, 2015, Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne.

 

Kerrianne Stone (Curator, Prints)

 

[1] See the poster in the British Museum, Erhard Schön, Clagred der waren Freundschafft, woodcut, letterpress, hand coloured, 1530-1535, Bequeathed by Campbell Dodgson, 1949, reg. no. 1949,0411.4061, the British Museum.

[2] See Genji’s world in Japanese woodblock prints by Andreas Marks with contributions by Bruce A. Coats … [et al.]., Leiden, 2012.


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