Special Collections items currently on exhibition

Special Collections items currently on exhibition


In the showcase of the foyer of Special Collections on level 12 of the University of Glasgow Library

April - June 2017

The Humanist North

There are many historical myths about the medieval period. We have all heard stories of the strictly devout society, despotic rulers and the daily grime and misery that reigned over Europe for almost five hundred years. Then, we were told, came the glorious Italian Renaissance, and soon the light of classical learning and beauty shone down onto the Dark Ages. However, a selection of manuscripts from Special Collections highlighted in this display proves that the relationship between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is much more intricate than that.

Before the advent of the Renaissance classical knowledge existed in Northern Europe in a Christian context. Writings of antique philosophers were valued chiefly for their moralistic quality and were placed alongside devotional texts in compendiums such as MS Hunter 231. In the full-page illumination on display, three philosophers - Plato, Seneca, and Aristotle - are pictured in contemporary doctors’ caps and fur-lined gowns. They are holding books inscribed with quotations from their writings, each summing up the key message of its author. The image transmits the teachings of the philosophers into the here-and-now of the medieval Christian reader-viewer.

MS Hunter 91 is a copy of Leonardo Bruni’s Vitae Antiquorum - a text on the lives of antique personages that embodies the movement of humanist ideas from Italy into Northern Europe quite literally. The book was written in two different scripts: partly in Florentine humanist cursive and partly in bastarda – an elegant, courtly script associated with French scribes and the Duchy of Burgundy until the late sixteenth century.

MS Hunter 206 was produced for Raphael de Mercatellis (1437-1508), founder of one of the first humanist libraries in the Netherlands. Although the Flemish book-hand script and floral decoration are typical of the period, the contents of the manuscript are far removed from the princely interests of Flemish nobility. The patron’s monogram and coat of arms are proudly displayed in the illuminated initials which open Leonardo Bruni’s Latin translation of Plato’s Phaedo – a dialogue on the soul and immortality. The heraldic decoration of the text not only denotes the noble status of the owner, but also points to the pride Raphael took in his patronage of classical learning.

Display curated by Wiktoria Muryn, MLitt Renaissance Art History student.

On display in the Hunterian Art Gallery

Nothing from Special Collections currently on exhibition.

External Exhibitions

Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
Frank Quitely: the art of comics
1 April - 1 October 2017

Frank Quitely is the alter ego of Glasgow born artist Vincent Deighan - a world renowned artist famous for iconic characters such as Superman, Batman and the X-Men. This exhibition is the largest collection of his work ever displayed. Find out more from the Kelvingrove website.

Two items from Special Collections are on show: our special hand coloured copy of the first issue of the 'World's first comic' the Glasgow Looking Glass (Sp Coll Bh14-x.8) and one emblem book from our outstanding Stirling Maxwell collection (SM 1903).

Abbotsford, Melrose
Rob Roy on Stage and Screen
22 April - 30 November 2017

The story of the Scottish outlaw and national hero had quite the afterlife in popular culture, and it is this story that will be explored in the exhibition: 'Rob Roy on Stage and Screen.'  Find out how Rob Roy became Scotland's first 'National Play' and, after enthusiasm for adaptations of Scott reached fever pitch in the Victorian period, what happened when twentieth century filmmakers started to distance themselves from his work. Find out more from the Abbotsford House website

Five items from the Scottish Theatre Archive are on show: a leaflet for a production of Rob Roy at the King's Theatre Glasgow with Jimmy Logan as Baillie Nicol Jarvie (STA WAT 27/70); Playbill (STA Mn 1/2) and Commemorative medal (STA Mn 1/8) marking Royal Performance (George IV) of Rob Roy at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, 27 August 1822; Playbill for Rob Roy at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, 5 June 1828 and a 1953 script for The adventures of Rob Roy, or, The highland rogue (STA Js 6/1)

Clydebank Museum and Art Galelry
Comic Invention
22 May - 4 August

In partnership with The Hunterian, a reprise of the 2016 exhibition 'Comic Invention' adds Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery's local collections - and with the help of Frank Quitely, shows that the culture of comcis is all around us.

Includes one of our copies of the Glasgow Looking Glass and issues of Punch.