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

Feb - June 2017

Alexander Stuart: List of Men Deceased on Board the Ship “Europe”  
Indian Ocean: 1704-1707
MS Hunter 50 (T.2.8)

Alexander Stuart (1673?-1742) was surgeon on the ship Europe which travelled to the Indian Ocean during the years 1704-1707. He meticulously recorded case notes for all of his patients in this journal, concluding with this list of the thirteen crew-members who died on the voyage. The perils of long distance sea travel are evident from the causes of death which include “impostumation of the liver” (i.e. an abscess), Beriberi and drowning. 

Geoffroy Tory: Champ Fleury
Paris: for Geoffroy Tory and Giles de Gourmont, 1529
Sp Coll Hunterian H.6.15

The Champ Fleury (literally “field of flowers” but also a phrase meaning “paradise”) is one of the most celebrated works of sixteenth-century French book art. It concerns the correct form and proportion of classical lettering but it is far more than a mere typographic manual since it doubles up as a moral and allegorical treatise. William Hunter was very interested in early works on typography and printing history. He seems to have acquired this work at the book sale of George III’s chaplain, the theologian and book collector Cèsar de Missy (1703-1775).

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!