Protecting the Word: Bookbindings of the Morgan
December 5, 2008, through March 29, 2009
|English embroidered binding, 1640s|
On: The Bible. London: Deputies of Christopher Barker, 1599
[but actually Amsterdam: J. F. Stam, 1639]
English stump work polychrome embroidery on white silk, over boards
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
The present example seems to have been worked by a
very talented and inspired amateur, who identified herself
with a rhyming couplet:
Anne Cornwaleys Wrought me
now shee is called Anne Leigh.
There was a considerable fashion in England for covers worked
in embroidery on Bibles and small prayer books during the
first half of the seventeenth
Anne Cornwallis Leigh (1612–1684) was the daughter of
Thomas Cornwallis and his wife, Anne, the daughter of Samuel
Bevercotes of Ordsall. She married Samuel Leigh of Rushall,
Staffordshire ca. 1650, and the binding
is attributed to this period.
It is a particularly superb example of the genre, in an excellent
state of preservation—the colors still bright and fresh, the
figures rendered in very high relief.
|Florentine Portfolio Binding|
On: Lanfredino Lanfredini. Libro segreto biancho. Manuscript on paper. [Florence, 1516].
230 x 305 mm
PML 78802. Purchased as the gift of Julia P. Wightman, 1986.
Light brown goatskin, with overlapping edges in a wallet style,
blind-tooled using a variety of knotwork and arabesque tools,
with goatskin appliqués employing blue and pink stitching and
silk ribbon interlace. As is customary with such bindings, an
extended fore edge flap wraps around from the lower cover
and closes over the upper. The two grommets in the flap served
to channel fabric or leather ties that secured the flap.
Account books, customarily bound in this fashion for centuries
to permit their use in the open air and in any weather, were
subjected to very hard use. Consequently their survival rate is
poor. Sumptuous examples such as the present one, however,
constituted luxury versions used by the wealthiest merchants
and bankers of Renaissance Florence, and the fresh state of its
preservation is nothing short of extraordinary. The manuscript
of Lanfredino's "White Confidential Book" is highly important
to accounting historians.
|Parisian Greek-Style Binding for Marcus Fugger, ca. 1555|
On: Plato. Opera (Greek). Basel: Johann Walder, 1534
Black goatskin over wooden boards, bound à la grecque with lavishly dotted gilt backgrounds, exuberant gilt interlaces, and varicolored goatskin onlays; painted armorials on center; edges gilt and goffered in an arabesque pattern with red and green paint
PML 42590. Purchased with the assistance of the Fellows, 1951
This exceptionally elaborate and splendid binding was created
for Marcus, or Marx, Fugger (1529–1597), a member of the
Augsburg banking family, who shared the family’s passion for
learning, the arts, and elegance. It is abundant in its luxury,
especially considering that the ensemble has been made up
entirely of very small tools, repeated endlessly. Gommar
Estienne, the royal binder at Paris, 1555–59, is probably responsible
for this tour de force.