Friday, May 7, 2010

La Chronique Anonyme Universelle

An illustration from a medieval manuscript, showing a crown man on a golden throne.We are in the midst of installing our next exhibit, due to open May 12th, From the Fall of Troy: Medieval Chronicles. A featured piece is a large fragment of a manuscript scroll, La chronique anonyme universelle jusque’ à la mort de Charles VII produced in 1461. It has an international scope, but it was clearly written for the use of the French. It displays successions of the Popes, Kings of France, Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of England, and a chronology of the crusades. Like many chronicles, it uses a genealogical structure to tell history through individuals’ exploits.

An illustration from a medieval manuscript, showing a crown man on a golden throne.The full scroll would have been eighteen meters long and could be unfurled at ceremonial occasions. The structure of the chronicle makes one wonder how it was read. The four timelines are not in sync on the “page,” so each narrative stream must be read separately. But, to an audience used to episodic reading, this may not have been as jarring as to a modern audience expecting clear narrative structure.

An illustration from a medieval manuscript of several men on board a ship.

Our fragment features miniatures of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, Godfrey de Bouillon as King of Jerusalem, and St. Louis onboard a ship. You can see it on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries May 12th through the end of June. After that, just ask for Rauner Ms 461940.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vanity Plates

A bookplate set within an ornamental border, showing a woman holding flowers and a dog. Behind them is Douglas Fairbanks' Zorro. The text in the plate reads "Douglas and Mary Fairbanks from among their books."A bookplate is one of the ultimate stamps of ownership - other than writing in the margins.  Both a status symbol and art in it's own right, the plate and its design reflect the owner's accomplishments and personality.

Shown here are three particularly expressive plates belonging to the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, the brooding Victor Hugo, and Vermont's own Calvin Coolidge.  The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine recently featured several other ex-libris in the March/April issue.

To see these plates and many others, please visit Rauner Library and ask about the bookplate collection.

A bookplate showing Victor Hugo's initials in front of an illustration of Notre Dame cathedral. A banner across the illustration reads "Ex Libris Victor Hugo."A bookplate showing an illustration of a home, lawn, and dogs, enclosed in an ornamental and topped by a bust and American flag. Below, the name "Calvin Coolidge" is prominently displayed.