Tag Archives: provenance

Les temps sont bien changés! Heresy, satire, and immolation

While there were an enormous number of duplicates within the French Revolution Collection (FRC), there also quite a few duplicates with items either unrelated to FRC or cataloged before the advent of the CLIR project.  For those, we are not only adding holdings records, we are also recataloging to bring the bibliographic records up to CLIR standard.

The Newberry already holds a copies of the anticlerical satire Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis and its continuation, Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en enfer, by Joseph Fiévée.  These send-ups lambaste Pope Pius VI personally and decry the church as a whole.  At the pearly gates, for example, Saint Peter doesn’t recognize his successor, who he finds too richly dressed, and when Pius tries to enter the gate he’s too overfed to fit; the removal of some masonry is suggested as a remedy.

Case FRC 18623 and 18624

Most  charming — and, of course, useful — about these pamphlets are the manuscript annotations on one of the duplicates of Paradis.

Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genre eût fait brûler solemnellement son auteur. Le siècle passé foutait[?] plusieurs exemples de gens grilles à bien meilleur compte. Témoins entre autres Geoffroy Vallés et Simon Marin, que au fond, n’etoient que des fous, des illuminés déraisonnants de la meilleure foi du monde, et plus dignés du Petites-maisons que du feu. Les temps sont bien changés!

Only one hundred years ago in France a pamphlet like this would have had the author burned at the stake.  The past century has spat out many examples of people grilled for better reasons.  Take for example, among others, Geoffroy Vallée and Simon Marin, who at bottom were nothing but madmen,  raving lunatics of the best faith in the world, and better suited to asylums than to fire.  The times certainly have changed!


Case FRC 18624


Lutozzo Nasi and Antonio de’ Pazzi, circa 1556

The Newberry Library’s copy of Luigi Alamanni‘s comedy La Flora, published in 1556 and recently cataloged as part of the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC), bears contemporary inscriptions in two hands.

Case ML50.2.F61 A43 1556 : La Flora, comedia di Luigi Alamanni, con gl’intermedii di Andrea Lori.

The inscription at the foot of the page is clear enough, and is still clearer and in slightly fuller form the end of the dedicatory letter: “Questa comedia è di Ant.o de Pazzi [romanized from Greek:] kai ton phyōn” (This comedy belongs to Antonio de’ Pazzi [...]).

Case ML50.2.F61 A43 1556, dedicatory letter: "Questa comedia è di Ant.o de Pazzi"

Returning to the title page, the fainter writing at mid-page is in a different hand and partially worn away.  It is also a bit curious.  The portion I can make out with the naked eye reads: “Di Lutozzo Nasi non è vero” (of Lutozzo Nasi, is it not?).

Case ML50.2.F61 A43 1556, title page: "Di Lutozzo Nasi non è vero"

The Pazzi and Nasi were prominent Florentine families (the former infamous for the fifteenth-century conspiracy that often bears their name).  I dare not hazard a guess as to which Lutozzo and which Antonio ours might be.  Any thoughts?  (Also most welcome: any thoughts on the Greek!)



“Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement,” or, More ridicule from the margins

Last summer I wrote about a 1797 pamphlet covered in manuscript annotations taking the writer to task on issues of church and state.  Something similar from the dawn of the Revolution has just worked its way through the workflow.   Mandement de Monseigneur l’évêque de Périgueux, qui ordonne des prières publiques dans tout son diocese pendant la tenue des États généraux du royaume (Case folio FRC 26783) bears an apology on the cover:  “Excusez l’état crasseux de ce mandement.  Je le tiens d’un curé indecrassable”  (Excuse the execrable state of this mandement.  I think it’s written by an inexecrable prelate).

Case folio FRC 26783

The anonymous former reader/owner of the mandement has filled it with angry comments and rhetorical questions, numbered for your convenience.  Some of his concerns are spiritual, but just as often they are financial–after all, the Estates-General of 1789 were convened to address the realm’s dire financial problems.

Here are a few examples of the reader’s annotations.

"10. That's all well and good: but the deficit?" "11 But the deficit?" "12 So fathers are more pious than sons? Aeneas gives us an example of the contrary."

“15 A great vicar of Périgueux and secretary to the bishop died in 1777 with a fortune of more than 200000 that he earned trafficking in contraband tobacco”

BLC beyond opera

The Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC) reflects Prof. Brown’s capacious interest in the ways that theater and music intersected.  The collection comprises not just opera libretti and playbills but a great many plays, collections of poetry, and other literary material of the early modern era that in some way inhabited the realm of musical performance.  Since this “other” material falls outside of the cataloging templates we’ve established for the CLIR project, it can be slightly less straightforward to catalog.  These moments of pause frequently become (at least for me) downright detours, as the workflow renders up some title ripped from the music-historical headlines.   Take for example these two volumes.

BLC 694 (Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553) and BLC 649 (Case DG738.21 .R67 1589)

The item on the right is an account of the intermedi performed for the wedding of Ferdinando I, grand-duke of Tuscany, and Christine of Lorraine in 1589.  These intermedi were lavish spectacles in music and dance and are considered important precursors to opera.

Descrizione dell'apparato e degl'intermedi fatti per la commedia rappresentata in Firenze nelle nozze de' serenissimi Don Ferdinando Medici, e Madama Cristina de Loreno, gran duchi di Toscana. Case DG738.21 .R67 1589 (BLC 649)

For music historians, the 1589 wedding was a signal event, due in no small part to the detailed descriptions not just of the stage machinery and costumes but the performers, the instruments, and the composers.  From the description of the fifth intermedio, pictured below:

…cominciarono a sonare gli strumenti, ch’elle avevan condotti seco, che erano viole, e lire arciviolate, e Anfitrite, sonando sopra alla nicchia un liuto, cominciò soavamente a cantare …

(they began to play the instruments that they had brought with them, which were violas and arch-lyres, and Anfitrite, playing a lute from a niche above, began to suavely sing)

The text goes on to attribute the madrigals to Ottavio Rinuccini and the music to Cristofano (Malvezzi).

From the fifth intermedio, p. 56. Case DG738.21 .R67 1589 (BLC 649)

Perusing a book of such import–from the collection of a towering scholar, to boot–would be a treat for anyone with an interest in early music.

The other item pictured above, labeled “Ecloghe di Calmo,” has a more esoteric appeal.  The volume actually consists of three titles bound together, all by the16th-century Venetian actor, playwright, and poet Andrea Calmo. This was the volume I’ve been waiting to cross my desk (I knew it was in the BLC), for the work of Calmo figures prominently in the Venetian singing tradition which is the subject of my dissertation.

Le bizzarre, faconde, et ingeniose rime pescatorie. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)





Two "Epitaphii de molimenti antighi" (epitaphs from old monuments), p. 72. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)









Calmo calls his poems “rime pescatorie” — pescatorian (fisherman) rhymes — and notes that they are “in antiqua materna lingua,” which is to say, Venetian.  These comic verses, along with his letters, provided much of the material for the emerging commedia dell’arte character of Pantalone, the Venetian magnifico.  The two comic epitaphs in this image — “Zangarin Zazzareta Buranelo” and “Cuffeto Bon Haver, zentil brigae” — are alluded to in a comic, quasi-theatrical song called an “aria giustiniana” first published in 1566.

The text of this volume is sadly pristine (oh, for some revealing marginalia!), the only trace of a previous owner being this tidy monogram:

Title page verso. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)

Interesting finds in the Brown Libretto Collection

This past week while working on the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC) I came across four items that stood out from the usual fare of 18th century librettos and oratorios.  The first item, BLC 320 (Case ML50.2.R84 H37 1771), is a bound-with volume containing the libretto of Metastasio‘s Il Ruggiero, based on Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, printed in Vienna in 1771, and a poem by Metastasio, La deliziosa imperial residenza di Schönbrunn, printed in Vienna, 1776. For a bound-with the volume is fairly straight-forward, both pieces were published separately and bound together at some point by an owner.  Both works were printed by the same printer, and include some lovely engraved head-pieces and initials, as well as an added, engraved title page for Il Ruggiero.  What stood out to me about this item, however, was the inclusion of manuscript pages, bound at the end of La deliziosa and numerous provenance notations throughout.  Both works include a former owner’s signature on their title pages indicating that the volume was given to the owner, count Giuseppe Goretti dei Flammini by Metastasio himself (‘Donato a me conte Giuse. Goretto Flammini dal celebre de amico autore’ BLC 320 no. 1; ‘Dono dell’immortale autore a me co. Goretti Flammini’ BLC 320 no. 2).

BLC 320 no. 1 - Il Ruggiero title page inscription

BLC 320 no. 2 - La deliziosa imperial residenza di Schönbrunn title page inscription

There is also an armorial bookplate in the front of the volume with the name Teodro F. Tausch and motto: Robur, et fides. On the rear flyleaf of the volume other owners have inscribed Firenze (on the recto) in one hand,  Padre Clemente all’illmo. (on the verso) in another hand, and in a third hand, on the verso, Luigi Cipriani di Stia mano propria a di 1816.  If all of this fun provenance material wasn’t enough the manuscript pages bound in at the end are even more interesting!

Armorial bookplate: Teodoro F. Tausch.

Rear flyleaf verso inscriptions

The 14 extant manuscript pages (at some point a large chunk of them were cut out) contain dedications to Goretti and Metastaiso, a memorial poem on Gaetano Sertor, author of the satirical opera Conclave dell’anno MDCCLXXIV, and a letter from Metastasio to Goretti.

Metastasio letter to Goretti - recto

Metastasio letter to Goretti - verso


BLC 322 (Case ML50.2.F387  S23 1690) is a libretto for Bernardo Sabadini‘s opera Il faovre de gli dei printed in Parma in 1690.  Despite its unassuming size (22 cm.) I was pleasantly surprised to discover 12 large, folded plates with both woodblock and copper plate engravings of various scenes throughout the opera, illustrated by the scene designer, Domenico Mauro.


The last two items that I selected are not libretti, but rather descriptions of two Italian festivals that took place in the early 17th century. BLC 329 (Case GT4252.A53 V35 1609), Relatione delle feste carnevalesche fatte nella citta d’Ancona, il presente anno 1609, provides a detailed description of the theatrical, musical, poetic and other festive elements of the carnevale celebration in Ancona in 1609.

BLC 329 - Relatione delle feste carnevalesche fatte nella citta d'Ancona, il presente anno 1609.

The author describes the various pastoral, comic, historical dramas, and mock battles that were enacted during the celebration.  Also included are the texts of several poems and various songs.  As I was reviewing the contents of this work for this post I noticed what appeared to be some sort of a list of rules for the ‘cavallieri’.  After consulting with Shawn, who is much better versed in Italian carnevale customs than I am, I found out these rules were for knights taking part in the jousting tournament and included rules for scoring points during the jousts.

BLC 239 - Rules for jousting

BLC 329 tail-piece

BLC 330 (Case PQ4632.S62  B28 1619), Battaglia tra tessitori, e tintori, describes a mock-battle, between the weavers and dyers, enacted on the river Arno in Florence 1619.

BLC 330 - Battaglia tra tessitori, e tintori.

The first part of this text describes the story behind the mythico-heroic battle: both kings Tinta, of the tintori, and Tessi, of the tessitori, are in love with queen Barulla and must compete for the honor of marrying her. The author sets the scene of the battle as it was laid out on the Arno:

“Imagine then, to see your beautiful Arno changed into the Tyrrhenian sea and the island … see the famous Sicily, and the burning Mount Etna that rises above … the armatas of king Tessi and that of king Tinta landing on the island as the Myrmidons and Mamluks …”

The remainder of the volume is a poem in 22 cantos on the battle to win the hand of queen Barulla.

Each of the four items I selected for this post are valuable to scholars in a variety of fields, for a variety of reasons, and only represent a small glimpse of the treasures in the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection.

New year, new collection

Engraving from Saint-Sulpice Collection (not yet cataloged)

We recently started to catalog the Saint-Sulpice Collection, the fourth and final collection that we will process as part of our French pamphlet cataloging project.  The Newberry Library purchased this collection, comprised of more than 2,500 pamphlets, in 2003.  Compiled and conserved by the Sulpicians of Paris in their seminary library over the course of nearly 200 years, the items in the collection date from the early 16th to the early 19th centuries.

Funeral oration from Saint-Sulpice Collection (not yet cataloged)

Comprised almost entirely of biographical materials, the collection includes funeral orations, epitaphs, death notices, commemorative verses, and éloges, collected as tools for teaching oratory, rhetoric, and other valuable skills to seminarians.  Around 1830, the individual pamphlets were bound into 124 volumes with distinctive green vellum spines and red spine labels.  The pamphlets are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the person described, ranging from princes and statesmen to nuns and abbesses to intellectuals and orators.  Well represented are celebrated orators of the 17th century, such as Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Esprit Fléchier, Louis Maimbourg, Jules Mascaron, and Claude-François Ménestrier.  Equally notable are first editions of short works by Guillaume Budé, Molière, and Blaise Pascal.

Volumes from Saint-Sulpice Collection (not yet cataloged)

While most of the pamphlets are in French and published in Paris or provincial locations in France, several are also in Latin, Italian, or German, and published in other European cities.  Notable among these is a funeral oration for Tycho Brahe.

Perhaps the most fascinating characteristics of the Saint-Sulpice Collection have to do with its provenance.  It is brimming with manuscript material, whether full manuscripts (original texts or copied from published works) or detailed manuscript annotations on published works.  Some controversies and events were meticulously researched.  For example, a series of annotated pamphlets on the decision of the Faculty of Theology of the Sorbonne to ban Sister María de Agreda’s Mystical City of Godpresents a contemporary and uncommonly rich account of the publishing history of a controversial religious work.  The Saint-Sulpice Collection is sure to enrich many avenues of scholarship in religious studies, literary history, and the history of publishing.

Printed and manuscript material from Saint-Sulpice Collection (not yet cataloged)