Posts by Pablo Alvarez

In Praise of Chiaroscuro

Detail of Color woodcut from four blocks, in the chiaroscuro technique, from Jean Michel Papillon. Traité historique et pratique de la Gravure en bois. 2 vols. (Pierre Guillaume Simon, 1766)

We are very pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the first comprehensive treatise ever published about the illustration technique of woodcut: Jean Michel Papillon. Traité historique et pratique de la Gravure en bois. 2 vols. (Pierre Guillaume Simon, 1766). Papillon’s manual is particularly remarkable for including a fully illustrated step-by-step depiction of the sixteenth-century technique of chiaroscuro.

Francisco de Quevedo and the Holy Inquisition

An expurgated sonnet on page 73,  from Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas. El Parnaso español y musas castellanas (Barcelona: Rafael Figueró, 1703)

When examining a selection of rare books that had been requested for a class presentation about the impact of censorship in early modern Spain, I noticed something truly remarkable in one of these books. Our copy of the eighteenth-century edition of Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas’ El Parnaso español y musas castellanas, published in Barcelona in 1703, had been manually, and massively, expurgated by a representative of the Spanish Inquisition, Joseph Pinell, as he himself stated on the title...

The Inferno according to Alessandro Vellutello

Woodcut from La comedia di Dante Aligieri con la nova espositione di Alessandro Vellutello (Venice: Francesco Marcolini da Forlì, 1544)

We are pleased to report about our recent acquisition of the first edition of Alessandro Vellutello’s influential commentary on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, which was published by Francesco Marcolini da Forlì in Venice in 1544. Undeniably, this edition marked a significant shift in the history of the iconography and reception of Dante’s poem, departing from the previous allegorical interpretations by Cristoforo Landino and Girolamo Benivieni, and challenging Antonio Manetti’s...

A Drawing Manual and a Watermark

The Artist Workshop, copperplate engraving from Odoardo Fialetti.  Il vero modo et ordine per dissegnar tutte le parti et membra del corpo humano (The Accurate Technique and Order to Draw the Parts and Members of the Human Body)Venice: Remondini, ca. 1700s

This blog post features an extraordinary well-preserved copy of what is perhaps one of the earliest extant drawing manuals that were published in Western Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century. Its author is Odoardo Fialetti, an Italian artist whose professional life flourished in Venice at the end of the sixteenth century; Fialetti had access to Tintoretto’s workshop, eventually becoming an accomplished copperplate engraver. While more than 200 engravings are attributed to him,...

Special Collections After Hours: Dissecting the Human Body in the Renaissance: Art and Science

Copper-plate engraving of a "muscle man" from Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564). De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (Basel: Johannes Oporinus, 1543).

Join us today for our December Special Collections After Hours open house! You are all invited to explore a great variety of early printed books containing illustrations of the human body that reflect the science of dissection as well as the latest artistic theories in early modern Europe. The display will include richly illustrated treatises by well-known authors such as Leonardo da Vinci and Andreas Vesalius. Refreshments. Time: 4:00-6:00 pm. Location: Special Collections Research Center....

To censor, or not to censor, that is the question

Title page of Gilbert Genebrand. ΕΙΣΑΓΟΓΗ Gilb. Genebrardi theologi parisiensis, divinarum hebraicarumque literarum professoris regii. Ad legenda & intelligenda Hebraeorum & Orientalium  sine punctis scripta (Paris: Aegidius Gorbinius, 1587)

I recently came across this sixteenth-century introductory manual designed to teach Christian biblical scholars how to read and understand works in Hebrew and other Oriental languages without punctuation and stress marks. But what makes our copy remarkable is that the names of well-known Protestant scholars, and other infidels, have been carefully crossed out, that is, expurgated, following the Inquisition's recommendations to censor authors considered heretical according to the teachings...

Puzzling out Hrabanus Maurus' Encyclopedia: A Manuscript Tale

Upper part of Mich. Ms. f. 14r. Leaf fragment containing Hrabanus Maurus' De rerum naturis, 14, 27. Parchment. 210 x 150 mm. Spain. 14th c. Special Collections Research Center (University of Michigan Library)

When searching for manuscripts of Hrabanus Maurus' medieval encyclopedia De rerum naturis (On the Natures of Things) in the database Digital Scriptorium, I came across a leaf fragment held at Columbia University Libraries (Plimpton MS 128 ) which, in terms of its handwriting and style of illumination, was clearly connected to a leaf fragment held at the University of Michigan Library (Mich. Ms. f. 14).

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