NEW YORK, NY.- The Morgan Library & Museum
continues its popular Treasures from the Vault exhibition series this spring with the presentation of thirty diverse works in its iconic 1906 McKim building. The great library was commissioned by museum founder Pierpont Morgan and completed in 1906, just seven years prior to his death in 1913. To commemorate Morgans life as one of Americas best known financiers and philanthropists, a selection of items are being exhibited in the librarys marbled rotunda. Included in the display are Morgans high school essay on Napoleon Bonaparte (he considered Bonapartes tragic flaw to be placing personal ambition ahead of the future welfare of his country); a stock certificate from the United States Steel Corporationan enormous undertaking which gave Morgan control of almost half the nations steelmaking capacitysigned by the companys first president, Charles Schwab; the last surviving letter from Belle da Costa Greene, Morgans dynamic librarian, sent to her Big Chief shortly before his death; and the iconic portrait of Morgan by legendary photographer Edward Steichen.
Additional highlights from this seasons Treasures include Colm Tóibíns manuscript of the short novel The Testament of Mary, the basis for his play that debuted in New York in April; a mid-fifteenth-century English cookery scroll containing nearly two hundred recipes in Middle English; autograph music manuscripts by Wagner, Verdi, and Britten; the first book printed in the English language; and writings by Jane Austen and Albert Einstein. The objects are on view May 7October 6, 2013.
Originally conceived as a monologue for an actress, Colm Tóibíns The Testament of Mary was published as a novel in 2011. The story takes place after the Crucifixion; as two of Jesuss followers begin shaping the narrative of his life for their gospels, Mary gives her personal account of her sons experience. Tóibíns hand-written first draft of the novelwhich he subsequently rewrote for the New York stage productionis being shown.
A mid-fifteenth-century cookery scrollmeasuring over twenty feet long and featuring nearly two hundred recipes in Middle Englishspeaks to medieval tastes. Among the recipes on view are two for conynges (coneys or rabbits), one in syrup, the other in clear broth. The first recipe instructs the cook to Take conynges and seethe them well in good broth. Take Greek wine & add a portion of vinegar & flour of cinnamon, whole cloves, whole peppercorns, and other good spices with raisins, currants, and ginger
Although Giuseppe Verdi (18131901) did not attend the premier of his Aida in Cairo in 1871, he took a hands-on approach to the operas Italian premiere at La Scala in February 1872. In the annotated libretto on view, Verdi sketched out his staging for the first three acts, specifying the singers placement, movement, and even gestures.
Guests at a 1930 fundraising dinner organized by the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies were treated to a filmed speech by Albert Einstein on Jüdische Wohlthätigkeit (Jewish Charity). When Einstein recorded his message extolling Jewish moral values, such talking pictures incorporating synchronized audio were still in their infancy. The notes he drafted for the speech are being displayed.
The very first book printed in the English language was a collection (recuyell) of courtly romances related to the city of Troy. The book, printed by William Caxton in Belgium, was intended for the English communities on the continent and for export to England. By 1476 Caxton returned to England to build the countrys first printing press.
For over three hundred years, Books of Hours were a popular means of assisting the faithful with their devotions, teaching children to read, and recording family histories. Some small and precious Books of Hours, however, functioned less like a book and more like a piece of jewelry. The ornamental quality of the sixteenth-century manuscript on viewilluminated by Simon Bening, the last and greatest Flemish illuminator of that centurywas enhanced two centuries later when its owner commissioned its elaborate, detachable gilt silver filigree binding.
Jane Austens letters to her sister, Cassandra, offer valuable and entertaining glimpses into her private life. In the 1815 letter on viewwritten while Jane was living at the London home of her elder brothershe tells Cassandra of the delivery of a brace of pheasants, continuing, We shall live upon Pheasants; no bad Life!
Cesare Negris Nuove inventioni di balli, printed in Milan in 1604, is the most comprehensive account of court and theatrical dance of the late Renaissance. In addition to descriptions of complex dances, it discusses proper deportment (for instance, a gentleman should hold the hilt of his sword with his left hand to prevent it from bouncing as he dances). Eager readers of Nuove inventioni could learn the steps for a total of forty-three choreographies.
For most of his life, William Blake earned his living as a commercial engraver. In 1793 he engraved sixteen plates based on the watercolors that accompanied John Stedmans account of fighting escaped African slaves in the Dutch colony of Suriname. Blakes hand-colored engraving on view shows the Aboma snake being skinned alive, recalling some of the books more brutal imagery. Both Blake and Stedman shared sympathy for the rebel slaves, and this project may have influenced Blakes anti-slavery stance in his Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793).