Handwriting works magic: it transports us back to defining moments in history, creativity, and everyday life and connects us intimately with the people who marked the page. For nearly half a century, Brazilian author and publisher Pedro Corrêa do Lago has been assembling one of the most comprehensive autograph collections of our age, acquiring thousands of handwritten letters, manuscripts, and musical compositions as well as inscribed photographs, drawings, and documents. This exhibition—the first to be drawn from his extraordinary collection—features some 140 items, including letters by Lucrezia Borgia, Vincent Van Gogh, and Emily Dickinson, annotated sketches by Michelangelo, Jean Cocteau, and Charlie Chaplin, and manuscripts by Giacomo Puccini, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marcel Proust.
Rather than focusing on a single figure, era, or subject, Corrêa do Lago made the ambitious decision to seek significant examples in six broad areas of human endeavor—art, history, literature, science, music, and entertainment—spanning nearly nine hundred years. From an 1153 document signed by four medieval popes to a 2006 thumbprint signature of physicist Stephen Hawking, the items on view convey the power of handwriting to connect us with writers, artists, composers, political figures, performers, explorers, scientists, philosophers, rebels, and others whose actions and creations have made them legends.