NEW YORK, NY.- The Morgan Library & Museum
s fall exhibition season includes touchstones of art, literature, and musicfrom drawings by Leonardo da Vinci to a survey of Edgar Allan Poes works to a reuniting of two manuscript copies of Beethovens Ninth Symphony. Complementing these exceptional items are over twenty diverse works from the Morgans permanent collections, presented as part of the ongoing exhibition series, Treasures from the Vault. These objects are on view in Pierpont Morgans 1906 Library from October 8February 9, 2014.
Typically, Medieval Gospel Books featured a portrait of each authorMatthew, Mark, Luke, or Johnat the preface to his Gospel. In addition to harking back to antique tradition, such portraits also functioned as bookmarks, since medieval manuscripts were neither foliated nor paginated. The portraits in the twelfth-century English codex on view are unusual as they depict each evangelist riding atop his symbol. Because the symbols derive from the Old Testament, this iconography hints at the New Testaments dependence upon but superiority to the Old Testament.
The first real images most Europeans saw of the New World were maps published three years after Hernán Cortéss conquest of the Valley of Mexico. Two such sixteenth-century maps are on view, depicting the capital of the Nahuatl (Aztec) civilization, Tenochtitlancomplete with Moctezumas palace and a public zooand the Gulf of Mexico, marking the first time Florida is named on a map.
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 sixteenthcentury 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.
Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII, contrived the kings marriage to Anne of Cleves. In Cromwells letter to Sir Nicholas Wotton, the kings ambassador in Cleves, he urged him to use therfor ye Wisedom and Dexteritie herin to satisfie his [Majestry] accordingly. The marriage was a disaster and led to Cromwells execution for treason and heresy.
Presented for the first time is a significant recent music acquisition, a newly identified copyist manuscript for the music of Domenico Scarlatti and Antonio Soler, both of whom were in service to the Spanish court of Maria Bárbara. Because no autograph manuscripts of Scarlattis or Solers music survive, copyist manuscripts that can be definitively linked with the composers carry great importance. The piece on view by Scarlatti was dubbed The Cats Fugue because the opening, dissonant theme skips about as if a cat were walking upon the keys.
The first edition of Laurence Sternes The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, was published in nine volumes, two of which are on view. As Sterne himself noted in a letter to actor David Garrick, the first two volumes had made a great noise and the author tried to compete against pirated editions by signing some volumes of the genuine edition as a mark of authenticity.
Charles Dickens enjoyed great success in America, a fact confirmed by a letter from his wife, Catherine, to her sister-in-law. Written shortly after the couples arrival in Boston, the letter describes the author as being perfectly worshipped, and crowds follow him in the streets even. She goes on, The people are most hospitable, and we shall both be killed with kindness.
More than fifteen years passed after the premiere of Giuseppe Verdis Aida before he debuted a new opera, Otello, to great acclaim at Milans Teatro alla Scala in 1887. Verdi would have been seventy or seventy-one years of age when he quickly sketched the early draft of the scene between Cassio and Iago on view.
Despite his description of James Joyces Ulysses as a depressing book that no one in their right mind could possibly enjoy, E. M. Forster believed it is, possibly, a masterpiece. Around 1934 he drafted the article on display in support of Ulysses, which was first published in Paris in 1922 but banned in the United States and England until the 1930s. In it, Forster calls on fellow authors to support the novels publication and to fight censorship.