Poll on proposed EU import rules for books and other cultural goods


We have just added to the viaLibri blog an online poll on a question that should be of interest to all our users. It gives them an opportunity to record their opinions regarding European Union regulations, newly proposed, to control the importation of cultural goods, especially early books, manuscripts and prints.

We have also included on the polling page a number of links to documents and articles explaining the issues involved in this important piece of legislation. After you have cast your vote you will have an opportunity to leave your own comments and respond to the comments of others.

If you believe that these issues are important, as we do, then please share our links with your friends and any others who care about  protecting the unrestricted international exchange of early books, manuscripts and prints.

COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts

A brilliant exhibition of illuminated manuscripts opened this weekend at the Fitzwilliam Museum. If you have any chance of getting to Cambridge before the end of the year this is something you absolutely should not miss.

colour_13_2

While a focus on the importance of colour in medieval and early renaissance art brings out a visually stunning selection of items to display, the attention paid to the technical aspects of the subject (pigment types, recipes, international pigment trade, painting techniques, modelling, alchemy, etc.) makes this more than just a collection of beautiful artwork, although it is certainly that too.

colour_13_6

Fortunately, if you cannot make it in person you will only be missing out on a portion of what has been done here.  There is, of course, an illustrated printed catalogue (420 pages) which includes general commentary along with extensive catalogue notes on the 150 items placed on display.  At £30 it is a remarkable bargain.

Cutting from a choir book. Historiated initial O. Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Venetian, attributed to Christoforo Cortese Early 15th C Vellum, 23.2 x 17 cm
Cutting from a choir book. Historiated initial O. Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.
Venetian, attributed to Christoforo Cortese
Early 15th C
Vellum, 23.2 x 17 cm

But perhaps even more impressive is the website created in support of the exhibition.  There, reachable by an obscure link near the end of the introduction, is a section of the website entitled “ILLUMINATED: manuscripts in the making.” where high resolution digitised copies of 20 of the manuscripts can be browsed and zoomed.  The quality of these images is exceptional; some of them nearly sparkle on the screen.  They are the first fruits of a manuscript digitisation project which has just been launched and which, together with the exhibition and its catalogue, celebrates the museum’s bicentenary.

Giovan Battista da Udine, The Adoration of the Magi from the Antiphonal of San Marco, Venice, c. 1567-1572
Giovan Battista da Udine, The Adoration of the Magi from the Antiphonal of San Marco, Venice, c. 1567-1572

COLOUR is really a remarkable event.  The Fitzwilliam has “the finest and largest museum collection of illuminated manuscripts in existence” and most of the items exhibited are from its own collection. Much of that collection came to it as part of the bequest of the museum’s founder Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, in 1816. A provision of that bequest requires that the manuscripts cannot leave the museum building. Thus they can only be seen at an exhibition like the one now underway. Many are now on public view for the first time. All of which underlines the importance of this exhibition and the Illuminated project to digitise the Fitzwilliam’s spectacular collection.

Sano di Pietro Missal, Siena, c.1450
Sano di Pietro Missal, Siena, c.1450