Blog

Not A Long Life, But A Happy One: Researching and Cataloging the Letters of Maria Tunno

This is a guest post by Madeleine Barnes, a writer, visual artist, and doctoral candidate in English Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

This summer, I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research and write detailed catalog descriptions of nineteenth-century women’s letters during a summer fellowship at the Morgan Library & Museum.

It's Shiny! It's Sparkly! It's Glitter!

Two figures facing each other earing yellow, orange and green clothes.

This post was created by Lindsey Tyne, Associate Paper Conservator

The gold, silver, red, and blue flakes that give Standing Together, 1986 (2018.105) by Luster Willis (1913–1990) its seductive sparkle are commonly known as glitter. Many of us instinctively know what glitter looks like and may even recall a childhood craft project or a greeting card we recently received, despite the fact that how glitter is made and what it is made of are trade secrets.

Ballet Beneath the Morgan

Sepia tone photograph of a woman's head and shoulders. Her hair, or wig is blonde and she is wearing a small crown prop.

During my time as a Morgan fellow this summer, I felt as if I were behind the curtain of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra in Paris, surrounded by the many stories and artifacts of celebrated modernist ballets. The Robert Owen Lehman Collection held on deposit at the Morgan since 1972 possesses a wide variety of ballet scores, giving a comprehensive view of the early twentieth-century Parisian dance scene.

Missing Nuns Reappear

Ultraviolet image of a page that is lilac and purple in color with black handwritten text.

One of the most interesting aspects of researching rare books is finding signs of use that a volume has accrued over the centuries. Ownership inscriptions, marginal annotations, bookplates, and bindings are all clues as to where a book has been and who has used it over its long life. A 500-year old book that looks like it has never been read is a perplexing problem.

Queen of Hearts

Decorated book binding in gold, blue, pink and black patterns with wheat sheafs and anchor in middle.

In the spring of 2019 former Morgan trustee Jayne Wrightsman bequeathed to the museum an exceptional collection of books bound for the highest echelons of eighteenth-century French society. This donation forms the core of the exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection, on view through January 30, 2022.

A Fine Binding for the Prince of Poets

Two portraits in profile of a man and woman looking at eachother with oval decorative borders and latin text.

As if genius is not enough, a lyric poet has got to be in love. Pierre de Ronsard was still serving his literary apprenticeship in 1545 when he met Cassandre Salviati at a ball in the Château de Blois. Around fourteen-years-old at that time, she was the daughter of a Florentine banker who helped to finance the reign of Francis I. She married a local nobleman a year later, but that was not an obstacle to the conventions of courtly love. She was Ronsard’s muse, a source of inspiration like Beatrice was for Dante and Laura for Petrarch.

Collecting Bibiena

This post is extracted from the catalogue of the Morgan's exhibition Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection, a show that celebrates the promised gift of a group of Bibiena drawings. This essay aims to put the new drawings in the context of the Morgan's existing collection, and to discuss the collecting of Bibiena drawings more generally.

In the King's Garden with Madeleine Françoise Basseporte

The mid-eighteenth century witnessed the flourishing of scientific illustration in Europe. In an intellectual climate that valued curiosity and experimentation, the goals of the artist frequently merged with those of the scientist. Before the invention of photography, artists needed to document botanical specimens quickly before they decayed. These visual records of plants aided in their identification and classification and also functioned as aesthetically pleasing works of art.

Bound for Versailles: Investigating the Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection

In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection, on view June 25 through September 26, 2021, our conservators from the Thaw Conservation Center took a close look at techniques used in creating these elaborate works of art.

Textured Stories in Thoreau's Walden Pond Journals

This is a guest post by Joshua Calhoun, Associate Professor of English and Faculty Affiliate with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Stone, wood, paper, plants, fabric. These are the textured impressions I find in the memory that, recalled here, become a story about finding stories. One way to tell this story—one that feels all the more urgent after a year of relying almost entirely on digital archives—is to give weight to the materials that shape our memories of archival research.