Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Albrecht Durer!


Albrecht Durer is on my mind as The Internet reminds me it is his birthday. What would he think of our world today? Would he be suprised to know that a cache of his works are on display in Washington D.C.? If you happen to be going to D.C. between now and June 9th (better hurry!) you absolutely must take yourself to the National Gallery for this exhibit: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/durerinfo.shtm

Those of us not going to D.C. before June 9th, myself included, must content ourselves with the online exhibition catalog, which is quite nice. But the itch to see some Durer could not be sated with online alone. Having had marvelous luck with what I call my "library catalog party tricks" in the past, i.e. turning up a very nice copy of Leonardo's Treatise on Painting in our own SJSU Special Collections, I wondered if the same trick, keyword searching "Durer" then sorting the results by reverse chronological order would result in treasure.

Once again, the catalog reveals treasure! Two, in fact! One more mysterious than the other. I hastened to Special Collections, digital camera in hand, and here are the results

SJSU Library is the proud repository of a 1591 edition of Pittore e geometra chiarissimo della simmetria dei corpi humani printed by Domenico Nicolini. Voila! You may click here for the catalog record: http://catalog.sjlibrary.org/record=b1408590~S1

For your viewing pleasure, the title page:

If you look carefully at the top corners of this page, you'll see where previous owners have left their mark, one L.E. and one Wm. Rothenstein:

Which one of these owners, or perhaps another anonymous aspiring artist, do you think is responsible for this marginalia?

This was such a surprise--when (carefully) turning the pages of diagrams and suddenly finding that years, maybe centuries, ago, a previous reader had tried out Durer's advice.

What of the other items, the more mysterious? Well, the keyword search is the "random result" generator in many ways--if the given word appears in a record, the result is retrieved. So, why did this title show up in the results?

Fama Austriaca, das ist, Eigentliche Verzeichnuss denckwürdiger Geschichten, welche sich in den nechstverflossenen 16. Jahren hero biss auff vnd in das Jahr 1627 begeben haben : darin sonderlich die Böhmische Vnruhe vnd Aussgang derselben, neben viel anderen Sachen so sich fast in der gantzen Welt zugetragen, erzehlet werden : sampt einem kurtzen Stam̃ Register dess hochlöblichen Hauses Oesterreich / zusamen gezogen vnd in diese Ordnung gebracht durch Casparen Enss.
Publication Information Gedruckt zu Cölln : Bey Peter von Brachel vnd Abraham Hohenberg, 1627.

In the note section, the record states "Print by Albrect Dürer pasted on flyleaf."

Here's what it looks like:

How and why did it come to be pasted in this book from 1627? A proud owner once penned H.T. Brewer on the title page...did the book seem a handy spot to paste a Durer print????

Such are the mysterious and treasures that can be revealed by the mighty keyword search!

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