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

February - April 2017

Picturing Knowledge and Curiosities: Venetian Renaissance Illustrated Books in Special Collections

By the late fifteenth century, Venice was an active centre and dominant force in the international book market. The city printed and distributed more volumes than any other Italian city. Most notably, many classics, a number of devotional texts, and a plethora of treatises ranging in subject from anatomy to architecture, were elaborately illustrated there for the first time.

Our current foyer display highlights some of the findings of a recent major collaborative research project on Venetian Renaissance prints, drawings and illustrated books in Scottish collections (funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Research Workshops in the Arts and Humanitie). Venetian books from our Hunterian and Stirling Maxwell collections were identified and surveyed for the project. Among the more than 600 sixteenth-to seventeenth-century Venetian books individually examined, roughly 30 percent were found to be illustrated. On display are a selection of books showcasing the more peculiar items – in subject and design – uncovered: a curious book of fortune telling, a woodcut attributed to Titian, one of the earliest books on Egyptology, and an engraving of a lavish 17th century regatta along Venice’s Grand Canal.

Display curated by Rose Z. King, former History of Art postgraduate work placement and Special Collections voluntary intern.

On display in the Hunterian Museum as part of the William Hunter: man, medic and collector exhibition

Nov 2016 - Feb 2017

Louis Bretez: Plan de Paris
Paris: for Michel Étienne Turgot, 1739.
Sp Coll Hunterian Ax.1.5

This wonderful atlas of Paris provides a glimpse of what the French capital looked like in the 1730s before the momentous 19th-century architectural projects which created the city we know and love today. The maps were drawn by an architecture professor, Louis Bretez (d. 1738), for the City Provost Michel Étienne Turgot (1690-1751), and expertly engraved by Claude Lucas. Unusually, they show the city at an angle from the air, almost as if one were in an aeroplane flying overhead. 

John de Feckenham: Booke of soueraigne medicines
England: late 16th century
MS Hunter 93 (T.4.10)

This manuscript of medical remedies was compiled by the Benedictine monk John de Feckenham (1515?-1585). It contains remedies for aches and pains, heart problems, jaundice and madness. Not all of these would stand up to modern evidence-based scrutiny, such as this treatment for the plague:

"take a cock, pullett, or pigeon, and lett the ffeathers of the tayle (or hinder part) bee plucked, till the rump bee bare. Then hold [the rump] to the sore, and the pullett will ... dye. And then haue another pullett, and doe the like to the patient, and if it dye yett still supply the patient with pulletts so long as any doe dye; for when the poison by the said chikens is drawne forth, the chikens ... will liue ... and the patient recouereth forthwith."

On display in the Hunterian Art Gallery

Nothing from Special Collections currently on exhibition.

External Exhibitions

Wellcome Collection, London: 1 December - 21 May 2017
Making Nature: How we see animals

The question of how humans relate to other animals has captivated philosophers, anthropologists, ethicists and artists for centuries. This exhibition brings together over 100 objects from literature, film, taxidermy and photography to examine the historical origins of our ideas about other animals and the consequences of these for ourselves and our planet.

Two items from Special Collections on show are: the illustrated title-page of The Bird Fancyer's Delight (Sp Coll Be.1.19) and a hand coloured plate of birds with their songs written out in musical notation from Athanasius Kircher's Musurgia Universalis (Sp Coll Af-x.9). Please note - our books will only be on display until the end of March 2017!