City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics, a new exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, opens June 17 and runs through September 11, 2016. During the one hundred year period from 1770 to 1870, often called the Romantic Era, hosts of artists traveled to Rome and witnessed the most dramatic transformation of the Eternal City since ancient times — from papal state to the capital of a unified, modern nation. Painters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and J. M. W. Turner, writers such as John Keats and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a coterie of early photographers were among those who documented the city’s historical sights and monuments amidst what amounted to a massive project of urban renewal. …more
On Tuesday, May 10, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Graphic Design, with posters and ephemera that highlight the shifting trends in imagery and typography styles starting in the late 1800s and moving through the 20th-century.
The sale is headlined by several items designed by Ukrainian-French artist and designer Adolph Mouron Cassandre, including Champions du Monde, 1930, a rare poster showing a shadowy reader engrossed in a novel (estimate: $25,000 to $35,000). In addition to Cassandre posters, the sale features more than twenty lots of Cassandre-designed items, ranging from a group of book covers and illustrations from the 1950s-60s ($600 to $900) to a 1951 Hermès silk scarf ($800 to $1,200). …more
On Thursday, May 5, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Autographs, featuring presidents and other influential historical figures, scientists, artists, writers and musicians.
Among presidential autographs is a partially-printed vellum military commission Document Signed by Thomas Jefferson appointing William Henry Allen Lieutenant in the Navy, Washington D.C., 17 February 1807 (estimate: $6,000 to $9,000). An archive of correspondence with more than thirty pages from Theodore Roosevelt and his family to Edwin A Van Valkenburg, editor of the Philadelphia North American, an influential paper, is also included in the sale ($6,000 to $9,000). …read more
A friend in Germany has been a bit dazed and confused by the American presidential campaign and wondered if I, as an American, might be able to explain the Trump phenomenon. I can't, but here goes anyway...
The front-runners of the two major political parties would head my short list for a Who's Who of weird participants in the 2016 Flying Political Circus. Mr. Trump has no trouble coming up with endlessly reported soundbites that make a lot of people cringe, seems hell-bent on establishing himself as the Andrew Dice Clay of American politics, and then compounds the felony by having a lousy interior decorator. …more
Not too long ago I caught a PBS broadcast of a production of one of the grandest of French operas, Hector Berlioz's “Les Troyens”. Berlioz himself wrote the libretto based on the Aeneid, a sort of Roman-centered epic poem that Virgil concocted from various sources, including a rip-roaring tale by a blind poet named Homer who may or may not have been blind or who may or may not have even existed. Either way it doesn't much matter because the story is a good one.
The first two acts of the opera center around Cassandra, the daughter of Priam who had received the gift of prophecy and then, according to which story you believe, was cursed by Apollo when she refused his attentions which turned out to be more than Platonic. The curse ran something like this – she could predict, prophesy, rant and otherwise warn about all sorts of bad things to come until she was blue in the face, but no matter what she might say no one would believe her. But that was only the half of it – for her troubles she would be insulted, branded as a liar, a mad woman or all three.
In one of her delusions she thought there was something fishy and not quite right about the gigantic wooden horse that the Greeks had wheeled up right in front of the gates of the city. Right off she smelled a rat (or maybe it was the fish) and set out with an axe and a torch to destroy the thing along with any cargo that might be in the hold. …more
Hay-on-Wye established itself as the first book town in the world and remains the most famous thanks to the pioneering efforts and promotional talents of Richard Booth. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model but few have had lasting success. …more
It may seem self-serving and somewhat trite for a bookseller to lament the passing of Chicago's Printers Row Book Fair as an ideal outlet for the sale of used books, but in the broader sense of the bookseller's impact on society at large, the loss is significant in terms of public exposure and opportunities for spreading literacy, as should become apparent here. So what happened?
Printers Row is an open air marketplace of books that has taken place on a single early June weekend each year since 1985 in Chicago's downtown, along two blocks of Dearborn Street between the central public library on Congress and the old Dearborn Station on Polk. It was the brainchild of local resident and activist Barbara Lynne and the Near North Planning Board, a civic association trying to develop the South Loop as a tourist and residential attraction …more
The Wayne Martin Comic Book Collection from PBA Galleries Sale 582
PBA Galleries Sale 582, Fine Books in All Fields with Illustrated & Children's Books took place on March 24, 2016. Along with a variety of other illustrated books, the sale featured a collection of comic books from the late Wayne Martin, an avid collector of autographs, books and ephemera from many fields. This was the first major comic collection offered by PBA and the results lived up to expectations, with many of the comics bringing impressive prices. The comics brought a high level of attention from potential buyers, with a number of participants by telephone and real-time bidding over the internet, as well as by those who left earlier proxy bids. …more
Rather unexpectedly, a dog has trotted into my life. More exactly, it has trotted into the life of my close friend Dr. Bierbrauer, who, now he is retired, has for some time been on the lookout for someone, or something, to spend his time with, in a fulfilling relationship of mutual adoration. How happy I am to be able to report that his search is over.
From the outset, Dr. Bierbrauer had some clear criteria about the dog he would like to share his life with. For instance, it would weigh not more than five kilos. An important consideration, because in Germany dogs which weigh less than five kilos can travel free on public transport and Dr. Bierbrauer, who has paid a heap of taxes in his life, is not a man who feels obliged in his old age to subsidize unnecesssarily the running of public trains, trams and buses in the Bundesrepublik. …more
(Fine Binding - Shakespeare) The Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, And Poems of William Shakespeare, With Memoir, Introduction And Notes By Richard Grant White. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1912. Limited edition, 1/1000 sets, an out-of-series set. 18 vols, 8vo; three quarter brown morocco and marbled boards, patterned endpapers, spines lettered in gilt, top edges gilt; Illustrated... $850.00(more on this and other books available from Austin's Antiquarian Books)
Conrad, Joseph. Youth: A Narrative: and Two Other Stories.Edinburgh: Blackwood and Sons, 1902. First edition, with ads dated "10/02." Although Cagle doesn't assign priority, one might assume copies such as this one, with ads dated October, precede those... $2,500.00 (more on this and other books available from Quill and Brush)
Photograph Album of 190 Vernacular and Professional Images, 1896-1919. Original photograph album. Morocco & Cloth. Album of half red morocco and textured cloth over heavy boards, paneled spine with gilt rules, marbled endpapers. Contains about 190 photographs (Indian sub-continent), including a few real-photo cards, mounted on heavy card-stock leaves. Images range in size from about 2” x 3” to 11.5" x 8.25". The largest photographs are among the most interesting and evocative. Many are captioned by hand. The album also includes one 2” x 7” ... $1,400.00 (more on this and other books available from R & A Petrilla)
Harris, Thomas Lake. God’s Breath in Man and in Humane Society. Santa Rosa, Fountaingrove, Published by the Author, 1891. 8vo., 314pp., ads. Tipped-in and signed albumin photograph of Harris, poet-mystic-utopian, and founder of the Brotherhood of the New Life. Very good copy in green cloth with 1" wrinkle at bottom of front cover; 2-½” inch split along top of rear inner hinge. Inscribed “To Miss Annie Anderson with the compliments of the Author. Given by her to Sunshine.” Two 3-½” x 5" advertisements for Brotherhood of the New Life publications laid in. Includes four original paper-covered lead or tin corner protectors and the worn brown shipping wrapper with Thomas Lake Harris’s return label affixed and which states “If not delivered, the postmaster will please notify T.L. Harris, Publisher, Santa Rosa, Cal., and stamps will be sent for return postage.” A unique association copy of a very scarce book by one of the early practitioners of California dreamin’... $1000.00 (more on this and other books available from John C. Huckans Books)
Is climate change and global warming really happening? Robert Kemp thought so in 2005 and correctly points out that since change, any kind of change, is the only real constant, a better question would be is it a good or bad thing? The entire subject has become so politically-charged nowadays that calm and rational discussion has become nearly impossible, with name-calling the usual response to people who question the accepted political orthodoxy. And since the science has been declared to be settled, scepticism is no longer allowed, especially in front of the children. Apart from climate change true-believers and the folks who run the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, I don't know of anyone who believes science, of whatever kind, is ever completely settled.
In Yale's E360 2009 interview with Freeman Dyson, the renowned theoretical physicist at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study supports the view that science - especially predictive science - is always subject to review. The lengthy comments thread that erupted turned out to be more fun than watching Sunni and Shia having at each other in a mixed martial arts cage match. …more
Not long after returning from Scotland, we attended the Morgan's Hemingway exhibition that remains on view until the end of January 2016. The Morgan Library and Museum, on Madison Avenue at 36th Street in mid-town Manhattan, has put on many important events over the years and I have to think this is one of the most instructive on many levels.
I've read a lot by and about Hemingway (one of the best biographies is the major one by Carlos Baker that was published in 1969), learned a lot at the exhibition, and came away with the sense that scholars of the future will find much less in the way of a paper trail to add to their understanding of the creative process of writers working today. …more
Events of late have made me wonder if Darwin got it only half right. I don't quarrel with the theory, as proposed in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), that modern man evolved from earlier primates and the earlier primates from mammals, that in all probability, evolved from even more primitive life forms. Even though I don't pretend to be anything close to a biologist, it all just seems to make a lot of sense. Some of us agree with Darwin's theories, some not. Some people argue the subject heatedly, while others simply agree to disagree. That is what civilized people do. What uncivilized people do is kill others who do not believe as they do. …more
In Another Publication Goes Digital & Narcissism's Darker Side (March 2013) I commented on the then recent mass murder of school children by a celebrity-seeking, criminal narcissist whose name I don't remember – but if you know who it was, please don't tell me. I don't want to clutter my mind with the names of individuals best left forgotten to history. There are plenty of good people more deserving of remembrance.
At any rate, the latest, at a community college in Oregon, happened on a gun-free campus making it a bit safer for the shooter to go about his business. But this time, according to several witnesses, the tragedy has all the hallmarks of a religious hate crime. …more