Skip to content

Category: Exhibition review

“A True Friend of the Cause”: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement

“A True Friend of the Cause”: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement
The Grolier Club, New York City
7 December 2016–4 February 2017

“I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery!” The placard featuring this statement in bold, black letters catches the eye of the visitor immediately upon entering the first floor gallery of the Grolier Club. First attributed to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1845, the statement “took on a life of its own in the abolitionist movement and was often quoted,” for instance in African-American historian William Cooper Nell’s The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), a copy of which is displayed in the same showcase. While Lafayette’s involvement in the American Revolution has been extensively documented, his role as an ardent abolitionist has received little attention.

Struggle and Story: Canada in Print

Struggle and Story: Canada in Print
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto
20 March–9 September 2017

Retired Director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Anne Dondertman, is quite right in her Foreword to the exhibition catalogue of Struggle and Story: Canada in Print that the “Fisher exhibition will no doubt be one of dozens if not hundreds of exhibitions celebrating our nation held throughout the country during 2017 [ie., Canada’s sesquicentennial of Confederation, the uniting of the provinces into a country]” (5). I agree – and I think Library patrons will also – with the two reasons that she gives in setting this exhibition apart from any other: first, she notes “the deep knowledge of the curator,” Pearce Carefoote, who “enthusiastically embraced this challenge almost from the time he first joined the staff in 2002” (5); second, she writes of the extraordinary repository of unique and Rare documents of Canadiana preserved at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library through traditions “even predating the establishment of special collections [of the University of Toronto] as a separate department in 1950” (5).

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

Morgan Library and Museum, New York City

9 September 2016–2 January, 2017

“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you…it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are. ” Who can forget Jane Eyre furiously taking her stand against Rochester after he railed that she was behaving like a “wild frantic bird” in proto-feminist passages where Jane demanded equal recognition of the sexes in this eponymous novel? For the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth the Morgan Library and Museum presented American viewers for the very first time the bound manuscript of Jane Eyre, on loan from the British Library.

‘Moments of Vision’: The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy

‘Moments of Vision’: The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

24 October 2016–24 February 2017

The Thomas Fisher Library’s latest exhibit, ‘Moments of Vision’: The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, curated by the renowned Canadian Rare Book dealer Debra Dearlove, and with contributions from Keith Wilson, Deborah Whiteman, and Michael Millgate, celebrates what can be described modestly as one of the most substantial literary donations to the Library of the past 25 years: As Interim Director of the Fisher, Loryl MacDonald, writes in her Foreword to the catalogue, “[t]he basis…is the superb Millgate Thomas Hardy Collection, gifted to the Library by Jane and Michael Millgate in 2012 and in 2013…assembled by Michael Millgate over forty-five years” (4).

Mindful Hands. I capolavori miniati della fondazione Giorgio Cini

Mindful Hands. I capolavori miniati della fondazione Giorgio Cini

[Illuminated masterpieces from the Giorgio Cini foundation]

Curated by Alessandro Martoni, Massimo Medica, Federica Toniolo.

Cini Foundation,Venice

September 17, 2016-January 8, 2017

miniature-evento-680x297

The exhibition showcases a selection of illuminated manuscripts (and fragments from them, at times recomposed in proto-collages) from the collection, which Vittorio Cini bought between 1939 and 1940 from the Libreria Antiquaria Hoepli founded in Milan in 1881. The art-historical value of the collection has received the insightful attention of several art historians, among them Piero Toesca, and is highlighted in the sections of the exhibition reconstructing the activity of several schools and workshops in the Italian peninsula from the 12th to the 16th century.

Reading Revolution: Art and Literacy During China’s Cultural Revolution.

Reading Revolution: Art and Literacy During China’s Cultural Revolution.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

21 June–30 September, 2016.

F8170

Zhou Ruizhuang 周瑞庄 (1930– ). A Lifetime of Revolution, a Lifetime of Studying the Works of Chairman Mao (干一辈子革命, 读一辈子毛主席书). Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, January 1966 (Seventh Printing).

The exhibition Reading Revolution: Art and Literacy During China’s Cultural Revolution, on display at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library from 21 June to 30 September 2016, curated by University of Toronto Associate Professor of Chinese & East Asian Art Jennifer Purtle and Elizabeth Ridolfo, Special Project Librarian of the Thomas Fisher Library, accompanied by a lush, colour catalogue, with descriptions of 50 of the unprecedented 217 objects, is well-timed and wide-ranging, a glorious celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), and a testament to the variety of books, posters, audio recordings, and objects generously donated to the University by Mark Gayn (1909–1981) and his wife Susan (b. 1921).

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

Location: nationwide

January 6 2016-January 8 2017

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare is a small traveling exhibition that is making its way around the United States as a part of the global celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The exhibition was created by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and will conclude Nashville on 8 January. This review is of the showing at the Michael Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shakespeare: Metamorphosis

Shakespeare: Metamorphosis

Senate House Library, University of London

4 April-17 September 2016

Shakespeare: Metamorphosis at the Senate House Library of the University of London provides visitors with an engaging view of the influences, texts, critics and reception of the playwright’s work over four centuries. As one of the several and elegantly designed printed resources for the exhibition explain: ‘‘The ‘Seven Ages of Man’ soliloquy from As You Like It, … explores the metamorphosis of Shakespearean text and scholarship’’ through the resources of the library. While the exhibition closed in mid-September, many aspects of the exhibition remain to be explored online.

Visions of Utopia

Visions of Utopia

The British Library, London

31 May–18 September 2016

Visions of Utopia celebrates the 500th anniversary of Sir Thomas More’s (1478–1535) work of fiction and political philosophy. In this small collection, viewers have the opportunity to press beyond a glimpse at the famous book to consider the genre this narrative about a fictive island inspired — the Utopian novel. Tucked into the Sir John Ritblat Treasures at the British Library, surrounded by some of the world’s most important works of literature, law, religion, and science, Visions of Utopia successfully captures what the exhibition describes as the book’s “timeless relevance.”

Aldo Manuzio. Il rinascimento di Venezia [Aldo Manuzio. The Renaissance of Venice]

Aldo Manuzio. Il rinascimento di Venezia  [Aldo Manuzio. The Renaissance of Venice]

Galleria dell’Accademia, Venezia

19 March–31 July 2016

Curated by Lodovico Beltramini, Davide Gasparotto, and Giulio Manieri Elia, the exhibition centers on the publisher Aldo Manuzio not simply by showcasing the innovations in his trade that transformed print culture. The history of his editions is placed in the context of Renaissance scholarly culture and visuality, with a keen attention to the social status of the book among his sophisticated first readers (often depicted in paintings by Titian and Lotto while holding one of the Aldine editions in their hands).