Friday, February 25, 2011

"Opere" del Galileo

A detailed illustration of an older man kneeling o speak with a group of women, pointing at the sun.In 1655, 13 years after the death of Galileo Galilei, the first edition of his complete works was issued, Opere di Galileo Galilei (Bologna: H.H. del Dozza, 1655). But there was one very big problem. Galileo's Dialogo, where he so persuasively defended the heliocentric view of the solar system, was still on the index of forbidden books. In order for the Opere to have wide distribution, it could not be included.

While the publisher did not want to push too hard, he did cleverly work the heliocentric view into the work. The frontispiece to the book depicts Galileo in animated conversation with the muses. He gestures to the sky, where you can just make out the planets orbiting the sun. It was a gesture to an unavoidable omission.

Our "Opere" is completed by our first edition of the Dialogo di Galileo Galilei (Fiorenza: Per Gio: Batista Landini, 1632). Come see them both by asking for Rare QB3 G14 1655 and Val 520 G133d.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Augustus Saint-Gaudens

A black and white photograph of a bearded man in a suit, with his face turned to the right.Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an Irish-born, American sculptor, was arguably the finest American sculptor of his time and a founding member of the Cornish Colony located in Cornish, New Hampshire. The summer retreat for artists included notables such as Maxfield Parrish, Percy MacKaye, and the American author Winston Churchill.  Rauner Library holds the papers of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which include correspondence, photographs, drawings and records of his commissions.

Among Saint-Gaudens's many works are a number of Civil War monuments, including a bronze bas-relief memorializing Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts regiment, the first Union regiment to be made up entirely of African-American soldiers.  The monument was unveiled in Boston in 1897 and stands on Beacon Street across form the State House.

A relief showing a man on horseback surrounded by other on foot, all carrying bayonets. A draped female figure flies above them.
Shaw Memorial in Boston

Numismatics was another of Saint-Gaudens's interests and he was chosen by Theodore Roosevelt to design a new twenty-dollar gold piece that is considered one of the most striking examples of American coinage.  Included in the collection are numerous design sketches and correspondence with Roosevelt.

A sketch of a long-hared figure carrying a torch and shield.
Design for the double eagle coin

A guide to the microfilm version of the collection is available online and the papers themselves can be viewed by visiting Rauner and asking for ML-4.