Category Archives: Events

Comparing Rome and Venice



Thursday and Friday, we welcomed the students of ART 233/ARC 233 Renaissance Art and Architecture with Carolina Mangone. Although the class focuses on the renaissance, we pulled Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 plan of Rome (176 x 208 cm) to compare with a facsimile copy of Jacopo de’ Barbari’s 1500  map of Venice. Three extra tables had to be brought in to accommodate the two.

The class description reads “What was the Renaissance? This class explores the major artistic currents that swept northern and southern Europe from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries in an attempt to answer that question. In addition to considering key themes such as the revival of antiquity, imitation and license, religious devotion, artistic style, and the art market, we will survey significant works by artists and architects including Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo, Jan van Eyck, Dürer, and Michelangelo. Precepts will focus on direct study of original objects, with visits to Princeton’s collections of paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, books and maps.”




nolli27The border of Nolli’s plan consists of decorative elements interspersed with the symbols of the 14 Rioni (the districts of Rome). Here is the 8th Rioni: Sant’Eustachio, named after the eponymous church located in Municipio I of the city. Its logo is the head of a stag with a cross between the antlers (although Nolli has changed that slightly here).



Princeton Students: A Chance of Free CAA Registration

Registration is in full swing for the 2017 Annual College Art Association (CAA) Conference in New York City, February 15-18, 2017. What can cost up to $500 for some is being offered gratis to a few lucky students with the CAA Student Scholarships.

This, of course, includes entrance to the fabulous art book fair:

“We are always listening to what our members want and seeking out the benefits to fit your needs. That is why we have partnered up our sponsors, multinational publisher, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, and art materials specialist, Blick Art Materials, to create a student scholarship fund to assist CAA Student Members with conference costs. CAA’s Annual Conference Partner Sponsor, Routledge, Taylor & Francis will award four (4) CAA Student Members with complimentary registration and an additional $250 in scholarship money to help with conference expenses such as travel, housing, or meals. Receipts will be required for reimbursement. CAA’s Annual Conference Presenter Sponsor, Blick Art Materials will also fund conference registration fees for four (4) CAA Student Members. No travel expenses are available.”

What does this mean for you? It means register today for the 2017 Annual Conference before the Early Registration deadline for a chance to be one of the lucky 8 CAA Student Members to receive one of these scholarships. Recipients will be randomly selected by CAA and announced in mid January.

Tell your students:

De Profundis

de-profunctisAndré Gide (1869-1951), Oscar Wilde: In memoriam (souvenirs) Le “De profundis”. Avec une héliogravure. 4e. éd. (Paris: Mercure de France, 1913). Rare Books: Sylvia Beach Collection (Beach) 3254.789.369


Princeton University Library offers 36 different options for studying Oscar Wilde’s De profundis, the letter he wrote during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas. You can read the transcription, enjoy a fine press edition, hear it sung, or research it with annotations. Now we have another.

On Sunday 30 October 2016, Patti Smith read Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis in the former chapel of Reading Prison, Reading, and that reading has now been made available to all (approximately 3 hours). Something to do over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Event: Patti Smith reads De Profundis (2016) from Artangel on Vimeo.

“De Profundis,” writes Colm Tóibín, “cannot be read for its accurate account of their relationship, nor taken at its word.” This is in part because Wilde had no other choice but to write a letter, or write nothing at all. The succession of prisons in which he was held between 1895 and 1897 allowed no writing of plays, novels, or essays.

Over the last four months of Wilde’s incarceration, he and the governor of Reading prison came up with a scheme. Since “regulations did not specify how long a letter should be,” Wilde would be given pen and ink each day and be allowed compose correspondence as long as he liked. The letter would then be his personal property when he left. Despite its literary density, the letter remains, writes Tóibín, “one of the greatest love letters ever written.”

Reading prison has just been opened to the public for the first time this year. Since July, artists, writers, and performers have gathered with audiences inside the prison to celebrate and commune with the spirit of Wilde. Among the events have been readings of De Profundis by Tóibín, who read the letter in its entirely last month, as did Patti Smith.–Josh Jones,


For more information on this series, see Artangel:



The Inaugural Gillett G. Griffin Memorial Lecture

willats-four-menPlease save the date for the Inaugural Gillett G. Griffin Memorial Lecture:

The London Circle: Early Explorations of Photography

delivered by
Sara Stevenson

on Sunday, 2 April 2017 at 3:00 p.m. in The Friends Center, Princeton University
corner of William Street and Olden Street, Princeton, New Jersey

Dr. Sara Stevenson was chief curator at the National Galleries of Scotland for thirty-six years and responsible for building and developing the Scottish National Photography Collection. She is the author of numerous books and catalogues, the most recent written together with Alison Morrison-Low is Scottish Photography: The First Thirty Years (2015).

The focus of Dr. Stevenson’s talk will be the Richard Willats album of early paper photography purchased by Gillett G. Griffin for the Graphic Arts Collection, Rare Books and Special Collection, Princeton University. Additional information forthcoming.


This lecture series is held in honor of Gillett Good Griffin (1928-2016).

“Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 22, 1928, Griffin grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. While attending Deerfield Academy, he developed an interest in and began to collect New England children’s books printed before 1846. In 1951, the same year he graduated from Yale, he wrote, illustrated, and printed A Mouse’s Tale, which was nominated one of the Fifty Books of the Year for its design by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Griffin came to Princeton in 1952 as curator of graphic arts in the Princeton University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections division, a position he held until 1966. In 1957 he took a leave of absence to design books for Princeton University Press and write articles on the history of printmaking and related graphic themes.” -Jamie Saxon, Arts and Humanities Writer. For the complete obituary see:

willats-sleepingDon’t miss it



All photography seen here was reproduced from the Richard Willats album, permanent link:

Election Night at Princeton

20161108_171728_resizedThe American Whig-Cliosophic Society is Princeton University’s largest and oldest student organization, based in Whig Hall.

Tonight the American Whig-Cliosophic Society will host an Election Night Extravaganza starting at  7:00 p.m. until election results are announced. According to the Daily Princetonian the event is open to all students of the University community. There will be 270 bubble teas, representing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, 1000 Dunkin’ Donuts, pizza, a photo booth, a raffle for a grand prize of Beats Headphones, and more. There will also be screenings on all four floors, with MSNBC showing in the basement, CNN on both the first and second floors, and Foxon the third.

Additionally, a Cannon Green photo booth will be open all day between Whig Hall and Clio Hall. A photographer will be present to take photos of people with Nassau Hall in the background as well as balloons that spell “VOTED.” A Snapchat filter will also be available on the spot.



Chelsea Old Town Hall


Each fall for the last twenty years, an Antiquarian Book Fair has been held in the historic Chelsea Old Town Hall on The King’s Road. Completed in 1886, the building’s architecture and decoration rival the exhibitor’s offerings for a visitor’s attention.

The Chelsea Old Town Hall is at the junction of Sydney Street and the King’s Road, which was just that, Charles II’s private road to Hampton Court. Visitors to the fair walk down a long marble-floored corridor and through carved mahogany doors that open to the grand Main Hall. Topped with a vaulted ceiling, candelabra chandeliers, stained glass windows, and grand marble columns, the Hall features a series of wall murals commemorating celebrities who lived in “the Royal Borough,” including George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Carlyle and many others.
There was no information in the hall identifying the mural artists but according to The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, having won a competition in 1912, Mary Sargant Florence (1957-1954) decorated in tempera the “Literature” panel in Chelsea Town Hall.” Other sources speculate that Sargant-Florence may have completed more than one work for the Hall.
Regardless of the setting, the fair itself is relatively casual, with piles of prints open to anyone willing to pick through them. No wonder long lines stood in the rain this week for the pleasure of attending this fair.

Comparing Broadsides

picture2Only two copies of this enormous broadside can be found today in public collections around the world. One is at Princeton University [above]. Although it is not dated, I believe it was printed in the spring of 1867, two and a half years after the Morant Bay rebellion on the island of Jamaica.



The printer of the sheet was Edward Cornelius Osborne, who opened a Birmingham book and print shop in 1831. Osborne was also a strong supporter of the anti-slavery society and a member of the Jamaica Committee (pro-Gordon and anti-Eyre).

Why he printed such a large broadside, so long after the rebellion, is the subject of a paper at “Printers Unite!” this week at the Marx Memorial Library. For more information, see:

blibraryThis is one half of the enormous Rare Book reading room at the British Library on Euston Road. It is only one of many such spaces of equally impressive size at the main branch of the Library.

This is where I found the other copy of Osborne’s Jamaica broadside, so large it had to be printed in two sheets. So large it required the desk space usually allotted to three separate readers. Our sincere thanks to the entire staff of the rare book division, who all helped in the pursuit and retrieval of this item today.

blibrary2Thanks also to Linda Oliveira and AnnaLee Pauls [at the top] for their help photographing the broadside.

Wild Lives

Our sincere thanks to everyone who turned out for our program “Wild Lives: Catesby, Audubon, Lear, and Ford” on Sunday afternoon. We were treated to a fascinating series of talks by Robert M. Peck, Class of 1974; Aaron M. Bauer; Neal Woodman, and Walton Ford. Each one, captivating on its own but surprisingly interconnected.

We recommend you look further into the work of each of these remarkable speakers, their books and catalogues, as well as Walton Ford’s upcoming exhibitions. Here are a few images from the day.

wild-lives4Thanks also to our colleagues in Guyot Hall, the perfect spot for these talks and for a break together with the dinosaurs.

NYCC. Rule 5: Naked is not a costume.

dscn7366Nearly 200,000 visitors attended New York Comic Con (NYCC) at the Jacob Javits Convention Center this week. The final numbers are not in but that’s roughly double the number of attendees of last year’s Super Bowl. All tickets for all week sold out last summer.


dscn7371471 artists participated in NYCC’s annex known as Artist Alley. A separate annex offered opportunities for Photo Ops with celebrities, but the entire schedule was sold out.


dscn7365A masked trio played at the Adult Swim booth, while crossword puzzles were completed on a public monitor. Visitors crawled in through a tunnel under the desk.

dscn7361Writer Ben Kahn signed a copy of Heavenly Blues, drawn by Bruno Hidalgo and lettered by Kathleen Kralowec. The book’s full title: “Heavenly Blues from the Pits of Perdition! Isaiah ‘Tommy Gun’ Jefferson & ‘Wicked’ Erin Foley.” The final page promises, “Next time, soulful sounds from the band of thieves.”


dscn7359Before you can attend NYCC, each visitor is given a list of rules they must follow. Rule 5 is “Naked is not a costume. Please wear appropriate (or at least enough) clothing while attending NYCC.”

There were, of course, plenty of cosplay outfits:


dscn7354Samples went quickly and the entire run of Kill Shakespeare (the book) was gone before we could buy one.


dscn7350The French Comics Framed festival offered an exhibition at The Cooper Union, rotating artists in the Artists Annex, and here, Nicolas Otero talked to the public. His graphic biography Le Roman de Boddah is being released in the United States as Who Killed Kurt Cobain? this month.

Nearby, the National Cartoonist Society booth was filled with different artists each day.





Welcome VIS 214 Graphic Design

graphic-design-class5Ken Ohara (born 1942), ONE (Tokyo: Tsukiji Shokan, 1970). 456 photographs, no text. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0807Q
graphic-design-classOn Friday, we welcomed a new class of graphic design students into Rare Books and Special Collections. The group began with some classic artists’ books from the 1960s and 1970s that use a visual sequence as narrative rather than text. Each student will make one of their own. Then we mixed in a few modern and contemporary accordion books.

In the middle right: Enrique Chagoya, Illegal Alien’s Meditations on el Ser y la Nada (Lyons, Colo.: Shark’s Ink, 2012). An eleven-color lithograph with chine collé and gold metallic powder, printed by hand from 10 aluminum plates. The lithographic plates were made from Mylars created by the artist that combine Xerox transfers with hand drawing, using pencils, toner and ink washes. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2013-0031Q

Middle left: Warja Honegger-Lavater, Imageries (Paris: A. Maeght, 1965-1982). 6 volumes. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2012-0814N

Bottom: Bruce Nauman (born 1941), Burning Small Fires ([s.l. : s.n., 1967?]). GAX copy: Signed by the artist on p. [2] of cover. Burning Small Fires documents the burning of pages torn from a copy of Ed Ruscha’s Various Small Fires. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0548Q


graphic-design-class4Kenneth Josephson (born 1932), The Bread Book ( [Chicago?]: K. Josephson, 1973). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2006-0142N


graphic-design-class3Sometimes the visual sequence not only omits text, but also pictures. Here’s a sequence of negative spaces to present the artist’s house. Ólafur Elíasson (born 1967), Your House (New York: Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, 2006). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0032E.


graphic-design-class2The class moved into type design and philosophy, type specimens, and history. They will soon set their own metal type and produce a printed sheet. We wish them luck.

[Sign painter’s pattern book] ([Paris: 1880-1890]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2010-0028E


graphic-design-class7Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Thesen über Typographie ([Zürich]: [E. Schwitters], [196-?]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) in process


graphic-design-class13William Caslon and Son. A specimen of printing types, by W. Caslon and Son, letter founders, in London (London: Printed by Dryden Leach, 1764). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2007-0699N


graphic-design-class12Merrymount Press. [Specimens of type] ([Boston: Merrymount Press, 194-?]). Princeton copy presented to P. J. Conkwright by the Friends of Princeton University Library. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-0799Q