Friday, August 8, 2014

After the Fact

Hindsight is always 20/20 and that applies to prophecy as well. It's funny how a prophecy "never accurately printed before" 1685 manages to capture the the entirety of an event that happened in 1530. So it is with the complete story of Cardinal Wolsey and his ill-fated and never completed trip to York which appears in our copy of Mother Shipton's Prophesie: with Three and XX more, all most Terrible and Wonderful, Predicting strange Alterations to befall this Climate of England (London: printed for W. Thackeray, at the sign of the Angel in Duck-Lane, neer West-smithfield, [1685]). The title page depicts the event, with Mother Shipton, in all of her ugliness, featured prominently in the center.

The editor or, more likely, author of our copy has helpfully provided historical notes and explanations of many of Mother Shipton's utterances, including anecdotes relating to King James, an anonymous Lord Mayor, and battles between Scotland and England. We're also provided potential confirmation of another prophecy with the note that "There is a Child not many years since born at Pomfret, with three thumbs."

In addition to Mother Shipton's words of warning, the book also includes an additional twenty-three foreshadowings of the past and future. We are treated to "A Prediction of Richard the Third" as well as several entries that could be read as lightly veiled political opinions on the succession of James II after the death of Charles II in 1685.

Ask for Rare Book BF 1777 .M66 1685 to read the "prophesies" yourself.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Item as deScribed: Medieval and Modern Illuminations

A new exhibit that showcases selections from Rauner's medieval manuscripts collection is available for viewing at Rauner Special Collections Library from August 5th through August 31st. “Item as deScribed” is an artistic exploration of medieval illuminations by Ben Patrick, chair of the Visual and Performing Arts programs at Vermont Commons School in South Burlington, Vermont. Ben graduated from Saint Michael's College in 1998 with a BA in Fine Arts and from Pratt Institute in 2004 with an MS in Art Education of Art and Design. He has been the Artist in Residence at Vermont Commons School since 2004, where he designed the Visual Arts Program, which unites media, concept, and studio application.

The inspiration for this exhibition originated from a field trip to Rauner Special Collection Library with a group of seventeen VCS art students. The concept for the exhibition involves language, media, and iconography, as well as the parallels and differences involving medieval and contemporary lexicons. In the process of examining these relationships, Ben has experimented with a wide range of materials: calfskin vellum in multiple ink jet printers and heat presses; lapis lazuli in petroleum distillates; and 24k gold (carefully painted on the halo of the Virgin Mary). Ultimately, these investigations seek to demonstrate that our illuminated text and icons, and our need to communicate with them, have not altered significantly over the last thousand years.

The exhibition is divided into three parts, each juxtaposing old and new media (and materials). It is the artist’s hope that this exhibit will shed light upon the timeless currency of ‘language’ in all of its processes, materials and meanings. Like the students and artists at Vermont Commons School, to whom this exhibition is dedicated, Ben also hopes that this current show will “inspire in others the restless, curious, always questioning tides of the creative process.” We hope that you'll have an opportunity to come by and examine Ben's inspiring artwork alongside equally enthralling illuminations from our medieval manuscripts some time this month. Once the exhibit comes down, the manuscripts can be requested at Rauner using the following call numbers: Codex 002253; MS 002088; MS 002254; Codex 001965; Codex 001598; and Codex 001918.